Mr. Timothy Diemler
State Emergency Management Agency
P.O. Box 116
Jefferson City, MO 65102
RE: Second Appeal: City of St. Robert, Community Safe Room, DR-1980-MO, Project #0069
Dear Mr. Diemler:
This is in response to your letter dated October 21, 2013, which transmitted the referenced appeal on behalf of the City of St. Robert, Missouri. The City is appealing the Regional Administrator’s decision to deny funding under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program for the above referenced safe room project application.
On November 5, 2012, the State of Missouri submitted the City of St. Robert Community Safe Room HMGP project subapplication to FEMA. FEMA's initial review found multiple deficiencies in the subapplication including a lack of basic information necessary to determine program eligibility, inconsistencies with target populations, travel considerations, site location and budget information. FEMA sent an extensive Request for Information (RFI) that specifically identified these issues to the State on December 12, 2012, with a response due date of January 13, 2013.
FEMA received the RFI response on March 15, 2013, two months past the response due date. After review of the information, FEMA concluded that the response did not address all of the issues outlined in the RFI. FEMA sent a second and final RFI to the State on March 26, 2013, requesting the missing information discussed in the first RFI. The RFI explained in detail what information and documentation were required to proceed with the project eligibility review. FEMA requested a response no later than April 10, 2013. FEMA received the second RFI response from the State on April 11, 2013, one day past the response due date. FEMA determined that the response again did not address the items listed in the RFI. FEMA denied the City’s request for funding for a safe room in a letter to the State dated April 29, 2013.
On June 13, 2013, FEMA Region VII received the City’s appeal from the State. The State indicated that it had reviewed the City’s appeal and that no new information was provided to impact FEMA’s previous decision. After reviewing the documentation submitted, FEMA determined that the project still did not meet eligibility requirements.
On August 27, 2013, the Regional Administrator upheld the original decision to deny the project. The State forwarded a second appeal from the City to FEMA Headquarters on October 21, 2013.
The issue in this appeal is whether the City’s application included sufficient information in accordance with program guidance to support its funding request to construct a safe room. The relevant section in the HMA Guidance, Part IX., Section C.4.1.2 Population at Risk from Tornadoes states in part:
The distance from the safe room for the at-risk population is based on a maximum walking travel time of 5 minutes or a maximum driving travel distance of approximately 0.5 mile. When considering a single- or dual-use community safe room, the 5-minute walk time or the equivalent 0.5-mile driving distance must be calculated by the actual travel route or pathway a pedestrian or a driver will be required to follow. This pathway should not be restricted, bottlenecked, or obstructed by such barriers as multi-lane highways, railroad tracks, bridges, or similar facilities or topographic features. Traffic congestion (including parking constraints) during the movement of the potential at-risk population to the safe room once a storm watch/warning notification is issued should be considered when defining the at-risk population for the community safe room. In either case, whether walking or driving, prospective safe room occupants must be able to safely reach the facility within 5 minutes of receiving a tornado warning or notice to seek shelter.
Travel Time Consideration – The proposed safe room is to provide shelter for up to 1,364 occupants that would need to reach the facility within 5 minutes of receiving a tornado warning. The majority of these prospective occupants have to cross a 4-lane divided highway, in order to reach the safe room. If prospective occupants were to drive to the facility, the amount of time required for driving, parking and walking to the facility for such a large population would also expose people to additional risk.
Population Protected – There is insufficient documentation to clearly identify the entire at-risk population that would utilize the safe room facility. Also, the subapplicant identified areas beyond the standard 0.5 mile radius from the facility as being where prospective occupants may come from. Areas beyond this 0.5 mile radius are generally considered too far and expose people to additional risk when trying to access a safe room facility and are therefore not acceptable as per HMA Guidance (C.4.1.2 – Population at Risk from Tornadoes).
I have reviewed all documentation the State submitted with the appeal and have determined that the Regional Administrator’s decision on the first appeal is consistent with program regulations and policy. Therefore, the second appeal is denied.
Please inform the City of St. Robert of my determination. My determination is the final decision on this issue in accordance with 44 CFR 206.440, Appeals.
Roy E. Wright
Deputy Associate Administrator for Mitigation
Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration
cc: Beth A. Freeman (via email)
FEMA Region VII
Mike Scott (via email)
FEMA Region VII