Flood Damage >> Colorado Flooding Causing Debris Removal

Local officials said they have had up to 90 contractors contact them in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. Some contractors travel to the disaster site and Colorado Flooding Causing Debris Removal repeatedly contact local officials, encouraging officials to immediately contract with their firm.

Others falsely claim to be FEMA certified or Colorado Flooding Causing Debris Removal even FEMA related. Many offer to manage the entire disaster response operation and claim to be able to obtain the maximum amount of FEMA funding for disaster operations. Some not only offer to remove debris but also provide monitors to oversee their own efforts.

In the face of such efforts, local governments need quick advice and Colorado Flooding Causing Debris Removal assistance. In spite of these obstacles, most of the local officials we interviewed were able to get satisfactory contractors through a contracting process they considered acceptable.

However, many have asked for a FEMA-approved standard contract to assist them in ensuring that their contracting was in full compliance with FEMA requirements. FEMA officials responded that it is not appropriate for FEMA to provide a preapproved contract. Colorado Flooding Causing Debris Removal

The local governments, not FEMA, are contracting with the debris removal and monitoring firms, and FEMA is not a party to the contract. However, FEMA will review contracts that local governments develop, Colorado Flooding Causing Debris Removal and the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has several sample contracts available on its website.

A city that used the contract review process said that both FEMA and Colorado Flooding Causing Debris Removal the Corps provided comments on its proposed contract within hours of receiving it. FEM's Oversight and Management of Debris Removal Operations Page 13Debris estimating—assessing the total volume of debris that has to be dealt with before it is actually collected—is an art and science that is still developing.

Results have been mixed, however. Officials in one county said while they had received an estimate of 100 tons of vegetative debris that they used as the basis for soliciting proposals, Colorado Flooding Causing Debris Removal the actual amount collected turned out to be 450 tons.

Had the competing contractors known that there would be so much volume, they might have submitted lower bids per ton, and both FEMA and Colorado Flooding Causing Debris Removal the community would have realized significant savings. The rules governing debris removal and monitoring are lengthy and complex.

The FEMA Debris Management Guide, FEMA P- 325, covers all the major aspects of debris removal. The guide is 149 pages long plus 92 pages of appendices. Some of the rules, such as those governing the eligibility of damaged trees (leaning trees and hanging branches), Colorado Flooding Causing Debris Removal are complex and even confusing.

A local government official faced with initiating debris removal operations in the wake of a disaster does not have the time to master all of these rules. And even those who have studied the guidelines find that some of their questions are not addressed. Colorado Flooding Causing Debris Removal

Figure 5. Leaning trees from FEMA Disaster No. DR 1682 WA (Source: FEMA) State and local officials described debris removal as a "gray area” in contracting and said some of the debris policies are ambiguous. Some unclear areas concerned the eligibility of tree removal or saving operations; assisting the elderly and disabled in getting their debris out to the curbside; Colorado Flooding Causing Debris Removal

what the allowable preference for local contractors can include; whether gated communities and areas without public roads, such as trailer parks, can be made eligible; and Colorado Flooding Causing Debris Removal whether funding new landfills for dump sites is an eligible expense.

FEM's Oversight and Management of Debris Removal Operations Page 14Figure 6. Removing an eligible hanging branch (Source: FEMA) State officials said that FEMA needs to do a better job of keeping all involved informed concerning new and Colorado Flooding Causing Debris Removal evolving FEMA policies concerning debris removal.

FEMA does provide a threepage fact sheet, "Debris Removal Applicant's Contracting Checklist,” that can offer timely assistance in initiating a quick response, but it cannot cover all of the debris removal program's rules and Colorado Flooding Causing Debris Removal requirements. Qualified FEMA debris removal staff can be of great assistance in informing local officials of the FEMA rules and requirements and interpreting the more ambiguous requirements.

In some cases, however, FEMA debris management specialists were not onsite until 3 or more weeks after the disaster, when contracts had already been awarded and contractors were hauling away debris. While some FEMA staff had arrived earlier, Colorado Flooding Causing Debris Removal they did not have the necessary debris specialist skills.

FEMA officials conceded that the FEMA staff who respond early to disasters, such as the Incident Management Assistance Teams, do not necessarily have adequate knowledge of debris removal rules, regulations, Colorado Flooding Causing Debris Removal and procedures.

Because the rules governing debris removal are lengthy, complex, and sometimes ambiguous especially when determining vegetative debris eligibility, different FEMA officials sometimes give local officials different interpretations of these rules. This can lead to debris removal actions that some FEMA officials had considered appropriate later being ruled inappropriate, Colorado Flooding Causing Debris Removal and even to a partial loss of FEMA funding.

Local officials reported that sometimes FEMA employees onsite cannot agree on the eligibility of a FEM's Oversight and Management of Debris Removal Operations Page 15 procedure, such as removing a tree, and have to halt operations until a supervisor can be called to the site.

In other cases, FEMA staff turnover at a disaster site, combined with the ambiguity of some of the rules, has resulted in a community being told that the procedures that had been approved were no longer acceptable and Colorado Flooding Causing Debris Removal had to be changed.

Perhaps of most concern to local officials, since it can lead to denial or return of funds, is when procedures that FEMA onsite officials have approved are later ruled unacceptable by FEMA regional officials, Colorado Flooding Causing Debris Removal or by state or federal auditors.

The Results of Problems in Initiating Debris Collection Operations Problems in initiating debris collection operations can lead to significant and costly problems during collection efforts, including the ineligibility of claimed costs and Colorado Flooding Causing Debris Removal subsequent demands for repayment of federal funds.

State and local officials said that some requests for proposals were issued that could have resulted in contracts allowing contractors to monitor their own performance. In one case, Colorado Flooding Causing Debris Removal a debris collection contractor was allowed to hire its own subsidiary company as a debris monitoring contractor.

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