Irene Recovery Information for Town Officials

From Sue Minter and Ben Rose, November 1 2012:

“Dear Town Official,

We are all thankful that Vermont has, for the most part, been spared the wrath of Hurricane Sandy. Our hearts go out to those communities to our South. As you all know well, Vermont’s road to recovery from Irene continues on. We appreciate all the work towns are going through in this recovery process and also thank VLCT for their willingness to assist our communications with towns still working through the FEMA PA process. This letter will focus on three specific timely topics related to the ongoing Irene recovery:

1. Identifying “problem Project Worksheets” and submitting the appropriate requests to FEMA to properly address them.
2. Survey Monkey: Please respond to help us understand remaining town challenges with FEMA and funding gaps related to your PWs.
3. Access to “EMMIE” External.
4. FEMA PA Audit Workshop –more help for towns.

1. If you have “problem PWs” now is the time to act:

Now is the time to identify any Project Worksheets (PWs) that do not provide adequately for what you need to meet permit requirements, and to submit the appropriate requests to address them.

We are aware that some communities face gaps between what their PWs cover (at 90% federal share plus 5% State share) and what it will actually cost to rebuild certain structures to state standards. In these cases, it is critically important to notify the State Public Assistance Office. If you build something other than what is written in the PW
without writing to the State to request a “Scope Change” or “Improved Project”, the funding for your existing PW could be jeopardized.

In cases where the cost of the needed work is the same or less than the PW, FEMA will generally be able to amend the PW as an “Improved Project.” You will then be able to use FEMA funds (capped at the amount in your PW) for your actual work.

Scope Changes: In cases where you need to expend more than the PW allows for (e.g. a longer span bridge, or a box culvert instead of replacing a too-small round culvert), we recommend you request a scope change ASAP. For details on this process see the attached “Scope Change Check List” or Go to and click on
“Scope Change Checklist.”

Upon receipt and review of your Scope Change Request, we will forward to FEMA with a recommendation. FEMA will then provide the state with a written response, which we send back to you with instructions on next steps.

Potential Appeals: If FEMA’s response is to deny Scope Change Request, it triggers the start of a 60-day clock for an appeal if you decide to pursue one. Towns may have grounds for successful appeals based on site-specific considerations if properly documented. Towns should consider an appeal if FEMA denies a scope change request for a PW which is
impossible, unsafe, or inappropriate to build as written. Note, however, that successful appeals require work on your part: the applicant must provide clear documentation, including why the PW as written does not meet FEMA’s own guidelines. A thorough Scope Change Request is a good start. Guidelines and a checklist for appeals are available at We recommend you call or email Public Assistance Officer, Ben Rose, if you are considering an appeal and wish to discuss (; 802 585 4719).

If you are in the situation of having a large PW (i.e. above $63,400) for which the PW accurately captures the scope of work, but actual costs are slightly higher (i.e. within 10% of the PW amount), you do not need to request a Scope Change. Minor cost adjustments can be made during close-out, when a final version of the PW will be written to cover
actual documented costs. However, if actual costs will exceed 110% of the PW, they you should submit a Scope Change Request.

2. Please Fill Out our Survey Monkey:

We are trying to assess magnitude of funding gaps for some bridges and culverts, and understand what additional challenges towns are facing in Irene Recovery and FEMA PA. Please click and let us know about your problem PWs. The survey is short and to the point. Please respond by Nov. 16!

3. Get Access To EMMIE!

What is EMMIE? It is FEMA’s data management system for all Project Worksheets. For town officials involved in carrying out construction, making payments, and/or maintaining documentation for FEMA project worksheets (PWs), EMMIE is a valuable tool. If you have not already signed up for “EMMIE External”, we recommend it. EMMIE External allows you to log in and view all your PWs, including attachments. This is important because sometimes PWs change as they go through internal FEMA review, after the last time you discussed them with a Project Specialist. For projects that are slated for construction in 2013, it is important to view the current versions of the PWs sooner rather than later.

To register for EMMIE access, go to, click the link there for “Register for EMMIE Access”, and follow the step-by-step instructions. It will take a few days for your application to be approved. Some people have a bit of difficulty navigating to their PWs in EMMIE, but once you figure it out it is a key resource.

4. Audit Planning Workshop:

We have teamed up with the State Auditor and the New England Municipal Resource Center to bring you additional support and assistance with the FEMA Public Assistance process. Please see the attached flyer and consider attending a workshop on November 8 or 9. In addition to critical information to prepare you for future audits, we are including
workshops on FEMA Public Assistance and Close Outs. Hope to see you there.

Thank you for your continued work on behalf of your community. If you have questions or need help with any of the topics discussed above, please contact Public Assistance Officer Ben Rose (; 802 585 4719).


Ben Rose
Public Assistance Officer

Sue Minter
Irene Recovery Officer



Scope Changes must be approved by FEMA prior to construction. As stated in 44 CFR 206.204(e) (ii): “Change in the scope of eligible work; (2) The sub-grantee must evaluate each cost overrun and, when justified, submit a request for additional funding through the Grantee to the Regional Administrator for a final determination. All requests for the Regional Administrator’s approval will contain sufficient documentation to support the eligibility of all claimed work and costs.”

FEMA has graciously agreed to support the State of Vermont by allowing Applicants to seek PW Scope Changes, provided that thorough documentation is provided. In order for FEMA to consider a scope change request, the Applicant must supply all supporting information and documentation to the State. The following checklist identifies information required by FEMA in support of your Scope Change Request Letter (on Town
Letterhead). The checklist is intended as clear guidance and must be completed and returned to me with your package of documentation. Failure to provide any of the required information is likely to result in the request being returned and/or rejected by FEMA.

Here are some examples of why a Scope Change Request may be warranted for one of your PW’s:

–The estimated costs in the original Project Worksheet were lower than the actual costs by more than 10% of the total.
–The original Project Worksheet did not capture all the repair costs due to damages encountered during inspections or repairs that could not be revealed prior to work beginning.
–The original Project Worksheet’s scope must be increased in order to meet the current codes and standards in place at the time of repairs.
–The Applicant feels the original Project Worksheet’s scope is incorrect or inadequate and has developed a design that is more cost effective and reasonable.

Scope Changes must be approved by FEMA prior to allowing the work or construction to begin.

Please understand that FEMA is currently accepting Scope Change Requests as a courtesy to the State of Vermont. This is a window of opportunity for Vermont Applicants that will not last forever.

If, after reviewing this packet, you believe you have a strong case for a Scope Change, we strongly recommend that you put together the required documentation as soon as possible and submit a complete package to the State for review and presentation to FEMA.

Scope Change Request Checklist

(Items in the package should follow the order of the checklist)

Disaster Number: ______________________________________________________________


Applicant Name: _______________________________________________________________

Proposed Project Address: ________________________________________________________

Project Latitude/Longitude: _______________________________________________

0 Applicant Cover letter on Town Letterhead (including PW #) requesting scope change and why.

0 List Referenced Project Worksheet (EMMIE #) and Attach Copy of PW:___________________

0 Vicinity map showing proposed location, disturbed areas, waterways, and wetlands.

0 Map showing existing footprint (original PW) and proposed footprint (scope change).

0 Special Considerations 9-Question Form as it pertains to the proposed project (included below).

0 New Scope of Work for the proposed project.

0 Anticipated start date and completion date of proposed project (regulatory timeframes apply).

0 Estimated cost documentation to complete the proposed project: proposals, contracts, etc.

0 Disposition of original facility (if applicable).

0 Explanation of general disturbing activities (digging, structure removal, site work, access roads, etc.)


0 Copies of all available Federal and State environmental and regulatory permits and approvals and any

other relevant documentation (i.e. environmental site assessments, surveys, or reports).

0 Copies of documentation or correspondence with the State Historical Preservation Office, if any.

0 Copies of insurance settlements, statement of loss, insurance adjuster estimate of losses, or statement from

Applicant if there is no insurance coverage.

Mail a complete package of the Scope Change Request Letter, completed Scope Change Checklist, and all
Supporting Documentation to:

Vermont Emergency Management – Dept. of Public Safety
Attn: Ben Rose – State Public Assistance Officer
103 South Main Street
Waterbury, VT 05671
Phone number: (802) 585-4719

VEM 09/12

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