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Huntsville, AL - Dallas Branch and Pinhook Creek Drainage Improvement Project

Appeal Brief Appeal Letter Appeal Analysis

Appeal Brief

ApplicantAlabama Emergency Management Agency
Appeal Type2nd
Project Number217
Date Signed2011-09-27T00:00:00
1st Appeal
• Issue
o In October 2006 the City of Huntsville applied through the Alabama Emergency Management Agency (AEMA) for HMGP funding for a flood control project involving channelization of creeks, a retention pond, and acquisition/demolition of properties, as a two-phased project. Phase I was final planning and design, and phase II was final plans/specifications and construction. On July 1, 2010 FEMA Region IV denied Phase II (Construction) funding with a proposed federal share of$7,608,849. On September 27, 2010, AEMA appealed the decision to deny Phase II. Region IV convened an Appeals Board to review the appeal and denied it for the same reasons as in the original denial. AEMA subsequently submitted a 2nd Appeal.
• Reason for Denial
o Region for denied Phase II on the on the grounds that the methodology used to generate the Benefit-Cost Ratio of 1.10 did not meet FEMA requirements, that the submitted design and budget were not complete, and that necessary coordination with major interested parties in the project area had not taken place.
• Reference(s)
o 44CFR § 206.434 Eligibility, EO 11988 and EO 11990, 44 C.F.R. part 10, Environmental Considerations, 2006 BCA Guidance
2nd Appeal
• Issue
o AEMA’s 1st Appeal letter stated two primary points: 1) City of Huntsville performed a Full Data Module using the Corps of Engineers Flood Damage Assessment (FDA) model and copied results into the Limited Data Model to calculate FEMA benefits/allowed by FEMA guidance. This process was coordinated and agreed upon by the agencies; 2) FEMA indicates damages predicted by the FDA model should be validated against actual damages. The State disagrees: a) the flood risk conditions have changed; therefore, historical damages are not representative of current level of risk. b) FDA uses current state-of-the-art hydrology and hydraulics data that FEMA uses to evaluate and regulate floodplains, and, thus, accurately represents the current level of flood risk and flood damages. These points were reinforced in the applicant’s 2nd Appeal dated April 19, 2011, when Regions IV’s concerns were addressed with supporting information.
• FEMA Findings
o The 2nd appeal decision, in a letter dated September 27, 2011, was to overturn the 1st appeal decision, but not allow HMGP funding until concerns were addressed pertaining to budget and design, level of coordination with ALDOT and the railway, and environmental/historic resource impacts; and extend the period of performance for Phase I of the project to allow for those needed improvements.
o Rationale: FEMA HQ determined that the methodology used to determine the BCR as acceptable, but shared Region IV’s concerns over failures to complete other critical project studies required as Phase I deliverables associated with interagency coordination, budget, design, and environmental and historic preservation.
o Reference(s): 44CFR § 206.434 Eligibility, EO 11988 and EO 11990, 44 C.F.R. part 10, Environmental Considerations, 2006 BCA Guidance

Appeal Letter

Mr. Art Faulkner                                     SEP 27 2011
Director
Alabama Emergency Management Agency
Post Office Drawer 2160
Clanton, Alabama 35046-2160
 
Re:  Huntsville Alabama    Dallas Branch and Pinhook Creek HMGP Project / DR-AL-1605-0217 / Second Appeal
 
Dear Mr. Faulkner:
 
I am writing in response to the Second Appeal submitted to Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration.  My office received the request to reconsider the denial for Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) project "Huntsville Alabama-Dallas Branch and Pinhook Creek HMGP Project" (DR-AL-1605-0217),  in accordance  with 44CFR 206.440.
Background:
On July 1, 2010 FEMA Region IV denied Phase II (Construction) funding with a proposed federal share of $7,608,849 on the grounds that the methodology used to generate the Benefit-Cost  Ratio of 1.10 did not meet FEMA requirements, that the submitted design and budget were not complete, and that necessary coordination with major interested parties in the project area had not taken place.  On September 27, 2010, the Alabama Emergency Management Agency (AEMA) appealed the decision to deny Phase II.  Region IV convened an Appeals Board to review the appeal and denied it for the same reasons as in the original denial. AEMA subsequently submitted a second appeal, which has been evaluated by FEMA Headquarters (FEMA HQ).
Analysis:
Region IV's denial of Phase II of this project application centered on the use of USACE data in developing the benefit-cost analysis and the lack of verifiable past damage history for the properties to be miitgated, but also noted failures to complete other critical project studies that were required as deliverables in Phase I. Following a review of the methodology used to determine the BCR, FEMA HQ determined that the methodology used was acceptable. Therefore, I will not deny Phase II funding on this basis.
However, my office still has concerns about the proposed budget and design, the level of coordination that has taken place with the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) and the railway, and impact to environmental and historic resources in the project area. These concerns do not allow approval of Phase II funding at this time. Rather, the Period of Performance for Phase I of this project is to be extended by Region IV on a no-cost basis to allow for continued improvements by the City and the State to the aforementioned interagency coordination, budget, design, and environmental and historic preservation Scope of Work elements of Phase I. Additional funding for Phase I activities is not approved at this time, and I caution the State and the City to not begin any construction of this project until Phase II approval.  FEMA will not fund mitigation activities that are started or completed prior to FEMA final approval of the project  and FEMA will make a decision to approve or deny Phase II funding of this project upon completion of this extended Phase I Period of Performance.  I strongly encourage the City and the State to work with our Regional office to provide further information in support of the feasibility, effectiveness, and suitability of this project to mitigate flood hazards.
Conclusion:
I have thoroughly reviewed all documentation that the State submitted with the appeal and have determined that FEMA will extend the Period of Performance of Phase I of this project to allow additional time to complete the Phase I deliverables associated with interagency coordination, budget  design. and environmental and historic preservation elements.
 
If you need additional information or assistance, please have a member of your staff contact Tony Hake, Grants Implementation  Branch Chief: at (202) 646-3428.

Sincerely,
James A. Walke
Director
Risk Reduction Division
Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration
Federal Emergency Management Agency

Appeal Analysis

Region IV's denial of Phase II of this project application centered on the use of USACE data in developing the benefit-cost analysis and the lack of verifiable past damage history for the properties to be miitgated, but also noted failures to complete other critical project studies that were required as deliverables in Phase I. Following a review of the methodology used to determine the BCR, FEMA HQ determined that the methodology used was acceptable.
Last updated August 19, 2014