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Moapa Indian reservation still waiting for 2014 FEMA flood funding

MOAPA (KSNV News3LV) - More than 13 months later, the Moapa Band of Paiutes are still awaiting an overwhelming majority of its federal funding from the severe flooding in September 2014.

Tribe Chairman Darren Daboda had never seen a flood of that magnitude in his lifetime.

"1980 we had the 100-year-flood. 2004 we had the 500-year flood. Last year was the first 1,000-year flood in Nevada," he said.

Daboda says the Muddy River overflowed, combined with nearby washes and heavy rain water from the Spring Mountains.

"Our community looked like a little small lake," he says. "There was two big areas, we had two breached earthen dams. One was close to our cemetery, and when that happened it almost excavated two of our tribal member's gravesites. So that was a main concern for our community."

The Federal Emergency Management Agency declared the area a major disaster in November 2014. Chairman Dobada says initial estimates at that time were $3.4 million.

Since that time FEMA has released $235,661.48 to Nevada for Moapa tribal expenses, amounting to about 7 percent of the initial estimate.

"We're kind of in the dark," says Daboda. "We have staff on hand; we are just waiting to get the RPs out and start doing construction."

Although the federal declaration was signed, FEMA says the funding is delayed due to environmental review.

"The outstanding projects in the queue require a level of historic preservation (primarily archeology) review and coordination with the State of NV Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO)," the agency said in a statement excerpt to News3 , adding "Our Environmental Office is expecting to be able to begin this process in the next few weeks with the first results within a 30 day timeframe, pending the ability to secure technical assistance in a reasonable time."

There are also more players involved. Federal funding from FEMA is administered through the Nevada Division of Emergency Management.

Emergency Program Manager Rick Martin says what is taking place is a reimbursement cost-share program. FEMA's public assistance reimburses 75 percent of costs for disaster-related repairs. Martin says the Moapa Band of Paiutes would incur the remaining cost.

Martin adds the reservation estimated 21 to 22 projects in relation to the September natural disaster. Some have been deemed eligible , while others are pending review.

For the eligible projects, Martin says the Moapa Band of Paiutes needs to submit documentation - including paid invoices - for repairs. The state says it's still awaiting the proper paperwork to reimburse the tribe.

Martin confirms the $3.4 million was an initial estimate of repairs, but says a final cost is pending.

Although lengthy and complicated, Martin maintains this is the standard for disaster declarations, adding NDEM and the Moapa Band of Paiutes have been meeting every two weeks since the area was declared a major disaster.

However until the dams are repaired, Chairman Daboda says the Moapa reservation is vulnerable.

"It is frustrating for our community because we've been leery of the last couple monsoon events," he said.
FEMA Statement

Under the federal disaster declaration (FEMA DR-4202-NV), the Moapa Band of Paiutes tribal nation was designated as adversely affected by severe flooding that occurred during September 2014. FEMA's public assistance program reimburses state and local governments, tribal organizations and certain private nonprofit entities at least 75 percent of costs for disaster-related expenses associated with emergency protective measures, debris removal, and the repair and restoration of damaged infrastructure. The remaining cost share is provided by the state of Nevada.

To date, FEMA has obligated $235.661.48 to the state of Nevada for Moapa Tribal expenses stemming from the disaster. The remaining federal funding has been delayed due to environmental review, in accordance with federal Environmental and Historic Preservation (EHP) laws. FEMA is working to secure the technical support necessary to move forward the Moapa Projects that are on hold for environmental reasons. The outstanding projects in the queue require a level of historic preservation (primarily archeology) review and coordination with the State of NV Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO), and while the Tribe may hire their own archeologist to perform necessary surveys, FEMA needs to evaluate reports and recommend treatment measures to the SHPO.

FEMA's Environmental Office has categorized the outstanding PWs into three different levels of significance. The first grouping is projects with minor or no critical cultural resources, which we believe we can move fairly quickly through the system once we have acquired technical support. The second group will require some record research or additional information from the Tribal archeologist or by our contractor before the FEMA Environmental Office can submit a recommendation. The third group will require longer consultation with the tribe and may take longer due to the sensitivity of the resources present. In few of these projects there are also natural resources which will have to be addressed with the assistance of a qualified biologist.

Our Environmental Office is expecting to be able to begin this process in the next few weeks with the first results within a 30 day timeframe, pending the ability to secure technical assistance in a reasonable time.

Mary Simms
External Affairs Officer - Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region IX

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