Dateline November 2015
Consultants from Simmons Recovery Consulting (SRC) joined the Owego Apalachin Central School District’s recovery team to provide guidance on the FEMA Public Assistance Program. The district’s Administration Building and the Maintenance Facility sustained damage that translated into a ‘substantial damage’ designation by the local floodplain administrator.
The buildings were rendered useless by the flood and the district was required to set up temporary operations in mobile trailer units. Designers were able to create a sizable unit by connecting many of the temporary trailers into a single building for administrative operations. When the new permanent Administrative Building is complete, these units will be removed from the campus.
With that designation of ‘substantial damage’ came floodplain code requirements that could not be met. The physical location within the floodplain and the building requirements to protect this critical facility meant that the only options to restoring the facility was replacement at the current site with incredibly expensive floodwall designs or the facility could be relocated to a safe site and use typical construction methods.
FEMA struggled with the eligibility of the floodplain regulations and their impact upon rebuilding and relocation. The grant first obligated by FEMA only provided $600,000 for repairs. In response, Simmons Recovery drafted a request for a scope change that demonstrated the code requirements and why FEMA had not provided sufficient funding. The result was an increase of funding to over $24 million.
The district utilized a Section 428 Grant that allowed for the significant costs of rebuilding in the floodplain to be applied to a relocation project. The district now has a grant that allows for relocation of each facility with a fair and fixed amount. The plans are almost complete and the district should break ground at a new location that is outside the floodplain in the summer of 2015.