Debris Removal >> How To Remove Flood Damage Debris In An Emergency

Debris 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, How To Remove Flood Damage Debris In An Emergency 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 the community would have realized significant savings.The rules governing debris removal and How To Remove Flood Damage Debris In An Emergency 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), How To Remove Flood Damage Debris In An Emergency 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 How To Remove Flood Damage Debris In An Emergency guidelines find that some of their questions are not addressed. State and local officials described debris removal as a "gray are"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; How To Remove Flood Damage Debris In An Emergency 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 whether funding new landfills for dump sites is an eligible expense. 

State officials said that FEMA needs to do a better job of keeping all involved informed concerning new and How To Remove Flood Damage Debris In An Emergency evolving FEMA policies concerning debris removal. FEMA does provide a three page 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 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, How To Remove Flood Damage Debris In An Emergency 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, they did not have the necessary debris specialist skills. FEMA officials conceded that the FEMA staff who respond early to disasters, How To Remove Flood Damage Debris In An Emergency such as the Incident Management Assistance Teams, do not necessarily have adequate knowledge of debris removal rules, regulations, and procedures. 

Because the rules governing debris removal are lengthy, complex,and sometimes ambiguous especially when determining vegetative debris eligibility, How To Remove Flood Damage Debris In An Emergency 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, and even to a partial loss of FEMA funding. 

Local officials reported that sometimes FEMA employees onsite cannot agree on the eligibility of a 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, How To Remove Flood Damage Debris In An Emergency 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 had to be changed. 

Perhaps of most concern to local officials, since it can lead to denial or return of funds, How To Remove Flood Damage Debris In An Emergency is when procedures that FEMA onsite officials have approved are later ruled unacceptable by FEMA regional officials,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 How To Remove Flood Damage Debris In An Emergency costly problems during collection efforts, including the ineligibility of claimed costs and 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, a debris collection contractor was allowed to hire its own subsidiary company as a debris monitoring contractor. In some How To Remove Flood Damage Debris In An Emergency cases, tree removal actions were either unnecessarily expensive or later found to be ineligible. In another case, state prisoners were used to help the elderly and disabled to get their debris out to curbside, and the cost of this assistance was disqualified.

A review of 36 recent OIG audits of debris removal subgrantees,generally counties and cities, showed the wide range of adverse effects and possible requirements for repayment that can result from How To Remove Flood Damage Debris In An Emergency problems during the initiation of debris removal operations: 

In eight cases, How To Remove Flood Damage Debris In An Emergency contracts were awarded without having been properly competed, or had major changes without the required competition. In seven cases, tree removal operations (primarily leaning trees and hanging branches) were improperly conducted or accounted for. In five cases, ineligible debris, such as from private or ineligible property, was charged under FEMA accounts. 

In five cases, ineligible contracts, such as time and materials contracts, were used after the first 70-hour eligibility period. In four cases, local governments charged ineligible local employee expenses (regular or straight time as opposed to the eligible overtime expenses) to FEMA. In two cases, How To Remove Flood Damage Debris In An Emergency accounting was inadequate and/or contractors had over billed local governments, which had passed the excessive charges on to FEMA. 

Conclusion Local governments need clear and consistent guidance governing the initiation of debris removal operations. Without such guidance, How To Remove Flood Damage Debris In An Emergency contracts can be awarded that result in higher costs to both the local government and FEMA, or can even result in communities having to return funds to FEMA. 

Debris collection rules and regulations need to be clear enough that state and local stake holders can understand them readily and How To Remove Flood Damage Debris In An Emergency obtain consistent interpretations from FEMA officials. FEMA needs to continue to enhance ongoing training and outreach concerning debris collection rules and procedures, highlighting changes and new developments.

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