Federal Emergency Management Agency
Washington, D.C. 20472
DEC 26 1996
Ms. Ellen Gordon
Governor's Authorized Representative
Emergency Management Division
Hoover State Building, Lower Level A
Des Moines, Iowa 50319
Dear Ms. Gordon:
This letter responds to a third appeal filed on behalf of Des Moines County for a grant under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP). The grant was requested to defray the cost of elevating two flood-prone residential structures. The State of Iowa's project number is 996.30. The grant application was submitted after disaster declaration FEMA-966-DR-IA.
Unfortunately, I must deny the grant because the proposed elevations do not meet the critical eligibility requirements of the HMGP. To be eligible for a grant under the HMGP, the projects must be cost-effective and the proposed elevations of nearly three stories would not be cost effective.
Funding under HMGP remains available. There are three options to consider. We would agree to acquire these properties under the HMGP, or you can use the available funding for a completely different project, or finally, you can proceed with the project using Iowa's five percent initiative funding. FEMA Region VII is available to assist Des Moines County in identifying suitable alternative loss reduction measures for the XXXX and XXXX properties. We look forward to working with you on this matter.
James Lee Witt
ANALYSIS OF THIRD APPEAL
FEMA-966-DR-lA, Project #996.30,
Elevating two Flood-Prone Residential Structures in Des Moines County, Iowa.
Background: In November 1994, the State of Iowa submitted to FEMA an application from Des Moines County proposing the acquisition of 52 primary residential properties and the elevation of 8 primary residences. FEMA approved all 52 acquisitions and 5 of the 8 elevations. Three of the proposed elevations were not found to be cost effective and were denied.
The State of Iowa filed an appeal to FEMA Region VII Director on behalf of Des Moines County. The proposed elevation of the three structures were not found to be cost effective and were denied. The State then appealed to the Executive Associate Director of FEMA's Mitigation Directorate, challenging RVII's rationale for denying the grant on first appeal (letter of April 13, 1995). The Executive Associate Director for Mitigation upheld the previous decision and denied the grant on appeal because the elevations were again not found to be cost effective (letter of November 30, 1996). When the State filed a third appeal, one home owner had withdrawn from the appeal, leaving two homes in question.
Review: For the final appeal, we performed a full review of the benefit-cost issues raised in this and earlier appeals. Our review included correspondence and documents from the first appeal to the FEMA Regional Director, and in the second appeal to the FEMA
Executive Associate Director for Mitigation. The Program Implementation Division procured the professional services of an architectural and engineering firm to independently access the cost effectiveness of the (two) elevations. The Region and State
were also contacted for additional site information and comments on the two properties.
The State has expressed that it would be willing to work with Des Moines County and FEMA Region VII to identify alternative loss reduction measures, such as acquisition and/or relocation.
Conclusion: After reviewing the information on the appeal, it was concluded that the projects do not meet two of the eligibility requirements under Federal Regulations, 44 CFR 206.434, to qualify for the HMGP. The proposal does not meet requirements for cost effectiveness, nor is it the most effective alternative to addressing the flood hazard.
Reason 1. 44 CFR 206.434 (b)(5)(ii), (the projects) will not cost more than the anticipated value of the reduction in both direct damages and subsequent negative impacts to the area if future disasters were to occur. In our review of these properties, we procured the professional expertise of an architect and engineering firm to independently evaluate the cost-effectiveness of the two proposed elevations. The results of this evaluation still indicates that for both structures, the cost of elevation exceeds the anticipated benefits in reduced flood losses over the life of the structures. It is concluded that the benefits in reduced flood losses are not sufficient to justify the costs of additional elevation to the structures. Under the HMGP, a proposed project must have a benefit-cost ratio of 1.0 or better. The projects under consideration here have benefit-cost ratios of 0.24 and 0.27, which is substantially less than 1.0.
Unlike the five properties approved for elevation, the two properties in question had been previously and retrofitted to a 10+ feet elevation on open pier foundations. The Morris residence had been raised to 0.3 feet below the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) and the Pilgrim residence had been raised 1.4 feet below the BFE. Damages from the 1993 floods were caused by the efforts of the local government to artificially raise the effective level of the levee to prevent damage to property on the land side. State concluded that raising these residences would not provide any significant damage reduction during subsequent flooding.
Reason 2. 44 CFR, 206.434 (b)(5)(iii) Has been determined to be the most practical, effective and environmentally sound alternative after consideration of a range of options. Although the State concluded that it is unlikely that the additional elevation of the two properties would resolve the repetitive problems related to public health and safety, the State submitted a request to have the homes elevated, as it was the only voluntary solution that could be reached with the homeowners.
The two properties are located on the river side of a levee that is below the 100 year standard. The Hazard Mitigation staff at the Iowa Emergency Management Agency determined that in the event of a major disaster or a 100 year flood event, neither property would be accessible to emergency services and would either be uninhabitable or present great risk to the inhabitants. In addition, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) surveyed the area and the two residences and concluded that there was no feasible on-site wastewater system that could be recommend for homes located on the wet side of the levee.