DR-4759-WA Public Notice 001

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 wildfires that occurred from August 18 – 25, 2023 in State of Washington.  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. See, Disaster Federal Register Notices | FEMA.gov.

Under a major disaster declaration (FEMA 4759-DR-WA) signed by the President on February 15, 2024, and amended on both February 20 and April 3, 2024, to include the following counties as being designated adversely affected by the disaster and eligible for Public Assistance: Spokane and Whitman. In addition, the following county was designated adversely affected by the disaster and eligible for Individual Assistance: Spokane.  Additional counties and Tribes may be designated at a later date.  All counties in the State of Washington are eligible for HMGP.

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

Presidential Executive Orders (EO) 11988 (Floodplain Management), 13690 (Establishing a Federal Flood Risk Management Standard, reinstate by EO 14030 and per Interim Policy 104-22-0003), and 11990 (Wetlands Protection) require that all federal actions in or affecting the floodplain or a wetland be reviewed for opportunities to avoid, minimize, or mitigate the risk of future flood hazards in light of  social, economic, 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 types of facilities there are normally no alternatives to restoration in the floodplain/wetland. These are facilities that meet all of the following criteria: 1) FEMA’s estimate of the cost of repairs 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; 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 those certain measures to mitigate the effects of future flooding or other hazards may be included in the work. 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 floodplain 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 also examine the possible effects of not restoring the facility, minimize floodplain/wetland impacts, and determine both that an overriding public need for the facility clearly outweighs the Executive Order requirements to avoid the floodplain/wetland, and that the site is the only practicable alternative. State of Washington and local officials will confirm to FEMA that proposed actions comply with all applicable state and local floodplain management and wetland protection requirements.

FEMA intends to provide IA program funding for disaster-related emergency housing.  These actions may adversely affect the function of a floodplain or wetland.  These actions may include repair, restoration, or construction of housing or private bridges, purchase and placement of travel trailers or manufactured housing units on private or commercial sites, or repair of structures as minimum protective measures.  This communication will be the only public notice concerning these actions.

FEMA also intends to provide HMGP funding to the State of Washington 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 archeological 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 the FEMA, Region 10, 130 228th Street SW, Bothell, Washington 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, within 15 days of the date of this notice.

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