DR-4730-AK Initial Public Notice

Notice Date

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) hereby gives notice to the public of its intent to reimburse eligible applicants for eligible costs to repair and/or replace facilities damaged by flooding which occurred from May 12-June 3, 2023. This notice applies to the Public Assistance (PA), Individual Assistance (IA), and Hazard Mitigation Grant (HMGP) programs implemented under the authority of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 5121-5207.

Under a major disaster declaration (FEMA DR-4730-AK) signed by the President on August 23, 2023, the following Regional Educational Attendance Areas (REAAs) have been designated as adversely affected by the disaster and eligible for PA and IA: Copper River, Kuspuk, Lower Yukon, and Yukon Flats. Additionally, Bering Strait was designated for PA only and Lower Kuskokwim was designated for IA only. All boroughs and REAAs in the State of Alaska (State) are eligible for HMGP. 

This public notice concerns activities that may affect historic properties, activities located in or affecting wetland areas or the 100-year floodplain, and critical actions within the 500-year floodplain. Such activities may adversely affect a historic property, floodplain or wetland, or may result in continuing vulnerability to flood damage. 

Presidential Executive Orders (EO) 11988 (Floodplain Management), 13690 (Establishing a Federal Flood Risk Management Standard, reinstated by EO14030 and per Interim FEMA Policy 104-22-0003), and 11990 (Wetlands Protection) require that all federal actions in or affecting the floodplain or wetlands be reviewed for opportunities to avoid, minimize, or mitigate the risk of future flood hazards in light of social, economical, historical, environmental, legal, and safety considerations. Where there is no opportunity to relocate, FEMA is required to undertake a detailed review to determine what measures can be taken to minimize future damages. The public is invited to participate in the process of identifying alternatives and analyzing their impacts through this notification. 

FEMA has determined that for certain facility types there are normally no alternatives to restoration in the floodplain/wetland. These are facilities that meet all the following criteria: 1) FEMA’s estimate of the repair costs is less than 50-percent of the cost to replace the entire facility, and is less than $100,000; 2) the facility is not located in a floodway or coastal high hazard area; 3) the facility has not sustained major structural damage in a previous presidentially declared flooding disaster or emergency; and 4) the facility is not critical (e.g., the facility is not a hospital, generating plant, emergency operations center, or a facility that contains dangerous materials). FEMA intends to provide assistance for the restoration of these facilities to their pre-disaster condition, except certain measures to mitigate the effects of future flooding or other hazards that may be included. For example, a bridge or culvert restoration may include a larger waterway opening to decrease the risk of future washouts. 

For routine activities, this will be the only public notice provided. Other activities and those involving facilities that do not meet the four criteria are required to undergo more detailed review, including study of alternate locations. Subsequent public notices regarding such projects will be published, if necessary, as more specific information becomes available. 

In many cases, an applicant may have started facility restoration before federal involvement. Even if the facility must undergo detailed review and analysis of alternate locations, FEMA will fund eligible restoration at the original location if the facility is functionally dependent on its location (e.g., bridges and piers), the project facilitates an open space use, or the facility is an integral part of a larger network that is impractical or uneconomical to relocate, such as a road. In such cases, FEMA must examine the possible effects of not restoring the facility and opportunities to minimize floodplain/wetland impacts. An overriding public need for the facility must clearly outweigh the EO requirements to avoid the floodplain/wetland and be the only practicable alternative. State and local officials will confirm with FEMA that proposed actions comply with all applicable floodplain management and wetland protection requirements. 

FEMA may provide IA program funding for Housing Assistance or Other Needs Assistance. These actions may adversely affect a floodplain or wetland or may result in continuing vulnerability to floods. These actions may include providing financial assistance for lodging expense reimbursement, rental assistance, home repair assistance, and/or home replacement assistance, or other necessary expenses not covered by insurance. This will be the only public notice concerning these actions.

FEMA also intends to provide HMGP funding to the State to mitigate future disaster damages. These projects may include construction of new facilities, modification of existing undamaged facilities, relocation of facilities out of floodplains, demolition of structures, etc. While developing project proposals, subsequent public notices will be published, if necessary, as more specific information becomes available. 

The National Historic Preservation Act requires federal agencies to consider the effects of their undertakings on historic properties. Those actions or activities affecting buildings, structures, districts, or objects 50 years or older or that affect archaeological sites or undisturbed ground will require further review to determine if the property is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). If the property is determined to be NRHP eligible and FEMA’s undertaking will adversely affect it, FEMA will provide additional public notices. For historic properties not adversely affected by FEMA’s undertaking, this will be the only public notice. 

As noted, this may be the only public notice regarding the above-described actions under the PA, IA, and HMGP programs. Interested persons may obtain information about these actions or a specific project by writing to FEMA Region 10, 130 228th Street SW, Bothell, WA 98021-9796 or by email to FEMA-R10-EHP-Comments@fema.dhs.gov. Comments should be sent in writing to Science Kilner, Regional Environmental Officer, at the above address within 15 days of this notice. 

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