DR-4473-PR Public Notice 001
Federal Emergency Management Agency
Acquisition and Demolition Project, Municipality of Arecibo, Puerto Rico
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is proposing to fund the Municipality of Arecibo’s project 4473-0074-Buyout for the acquisition and demolition of flood-prone properties located in the Barranca Parcels Community, Barrio Hato Abajo in Arecibo-Puerto Rico. The Municipality has applied for funding through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) as authorized in accordance with the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance (Stafford) Act, as amended, (42 United States Code §§ 5121-5207), as amended; the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013; and the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (Public Law 115-123). This notice covers all sources of FEMA funding for this project.
Property owners’ participation in FEMA funded acquisition and demolition projects is voluntary. FEMA makes the acquisition and demolition of flood prone structures, particularly those in mapped, special flood hazard areas, priority mitigation projects. The Barranca Parcels Community, Barrio Hato Abajo in Arecibo community is not located in a regulatory floodplain but has experienced repetitive damage due to flooding. Properties located in the community have had an average of four flood events annually between the months of June and November, with an average high-water mark of 3 ft. The flood event of Sept. 13, 2020 was the most significant in past years where, in some residences, the high-water mark was recorded above 5 ft. In addition, residences are in proximity of a sinkhole according to U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) topographic maps and a near freshwater emergent wetland according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) National Wetlands Inventory (NWI) Maps. Per 44 CFR Part 9.7 (b), in the absence of a finding to the contrary, FEMA may assume that a proposed action involving a facility or structure that has been flooded, is in the floodplain.
FEMA-funded acquisition and demolition projects include the purchase of land and structures, demolition of the structures, removal of utilities and deed restriction of the land as green space in perpetuity. Restricting the land to green space allows the natural floodplain functions to return. The properties purchased with grant funds cannot be redeveloped, but certain open space uses that are beneficial to the floodplain and the community in general may be permitted for other uses, such as a park or wetland. FEMA considers this type of mitigation to be 100 percent effective against future property damage.
Under Executive Orders (EO) 11988-Floodplain Management and EO 11990-Wetlands, FEMA is required to consider alternatives and provide a public notice of any proposed actions in or affecting floodplains or wetlands. Under EO 12898-Environmental Justice for Low Income and Minority Populations, FEMA is required to conduct public engagement and review of federal actions that may have the potential to disproportionately affect minority and low-income populations. Funding for the proposed project will be conditional on compliance with all applicable federal, tribal, state and local laws, regulations, floodplain standards, requirements and permitting conditions.
The Municipality of Arecibo briefed residents at the Barranca Parcels Community on the proposed actions and informed residents and property owners about the project. Site visits were conducted by Municipal employees and/or contractors at each residence in September 2020.
In accordance with the National Historic Preservation Act, FEMA consulted with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) on the proposed actions and achieved SHPO concurrence Oct. 7, 2021 with FEMA’s determination that no historic properties would be affected by the project.
Based on a review of the scope, SHPO concurrence and pursuant to 1) National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), 2) FEMA Instruction 108-1-1 Environmental Planning and Historic Preservation Responsibilities and Program Requirements; 3) EOs addressing floodplains (EO 11988), wetlands (EO 11990) and environmental justice (EO 12898); and 4) the FEMA Directive 023-1, Rev. 01 and FEMA Directive 108-1, FEMA’s preliminary determination is that the proposed project would not have a disproportionately high and adverse impact on minority and low-income populations and would not significantly adversely affect the quality of the natural and human environment.
FEMA is soliciting comments from the public; inclusive of local population, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, federal agencies and other interested parties; and other interested parties to further consider and evaluate impacts of the proposed project and make a final determination. All comments are due within 15 days of this notice. The comments should be made via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, addressed to EHP Division, or submitted in writing to the address below. Comments or additional information on the decision or decision-making process may be obtained by emailing email@example.com with the subject line “4473-0074-Buyout" or by writing to:
Federal Emergency Management Agency
c/o EHP Division
4339-DR-PR Joint Recovery Office
50 Carr. 165 Sector de Buchanan Parque Industrial Amelia, Suite 3
Guaynabo, PR 00968