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Charity Hospital FEMA Appeal Filed

BATON ROUGE---Attorneys for the Louisiana Office of Facility Planning and Control (FP&C) and LSU assert the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) ignored its own rules and failed to fairly assess the cost of repairing hurricane damage at Charity Hospital in New Orleans.

In an appeal of a proposed Project Worksheet payment for Charity, FP&C and LSU, citing eight errors, contend FEMA lacked “a reasonable factual basis” for rejecting the state’s claim for just under $492 million to replace the 70-year-old, teaching and research hospital. The appeal was filed with the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) for later forwarding to FEMA’s regional office in Denton, Texas where attorneys for the state and LSU are asking FEMA officials to “review and correct the erroneous action” taken by FEMA’s Louisiana office.

The 52-page appeal maintains inexperienced FEMA project officers engaged in a “pattern of unreasonable conduct” that produced flawed evaluations based on an examination of only one-tenth of the million-square-foot facility. That assessment, the appeal contends, “woefully” underestimated the scope and true costs of needed repairs.

At the center of the state’s appeal is FEMA’s so-called 50 Percent Rule. The FP&C document argues damage to Charity exceeds 50 percent of the replacement cost of the building, making the facility eligible under the Robert T. Stafford Act Public Assistance Grant Program for full replacement costs of $491.8 million. FEMA has offered the state $121 million.

The appeal says FEMA “arbitrarily rejected FP&C’s reasonable and well supported replacement cost claim with little or no analysis and with no factual basis for its conclusions.” “FEMA provides only vague, non-specific and factually unsupported reasons for its conclusions,” the appeal adds.

FP&C’s appeal points out FEMA ignored the 50 percent rule despite exhaustive assessments by three, nationally prominent engineering teams that concluded, following separate, floor-by-floor, room-by-room evaluations of the structure, that damage greatly exceeded the 50 percent threshold.

A .pdf copy of the Charity Hospital appeal and a look at damage to the hospital can be found at:
http://www.lsusystem.edu/media/newHospital/

A compilation of broadcast quality stills taken inside Charity also are available in the .m4v format at the same address. Click on “high-quality” download.

For further information, contact Charles Zewe, PhD, LSU System Vice President for Communication, 225-578-3941.

Charity Hospital

A .pdf copy of the Charity Hospital appeal and a look at damage to the hospital can be found here.

A compilation of broadcast quality stills taken inside Charity also are available in the .m4v format at the same address. Click on “high-quality” download.