CHARLESTON, W. Va. -- Flooding resulted in a federal disaster declaration in 26 West Virginia counties. Three lives were lost and extensive property damage occurred. Fortunately, however, the potential for greater damages and human suffering was reduced because of disaster prevention measures.
For instance, mitigation projects in the north central part of the state saved approximately $750,000 in property damage during the recent flooding. Aside from the economic impact, families were spared the emotional distress of having their homes flooded.
Mitigation successes occurred in the communities of Philippi, Junior, Buckhannon and Lumberport. In the City of Philippi, 29 homes are no longer in the floodplain and approximately $400,000 in property damage was avoided.
Governor Cecil Underwood noted in a visit to Philippi soon after the flood that, "we are beginning to see significant benefits from our ongoing efforts to move structures out of the floodplain."
Other communities benefiting from mitigation during the recent flooding are Junior, where six homes that were removed saved $40,000; Lumberport, where three removed homes saved $60,000 and the City of Buckhannon, where fourteen homes were acquired and saved $150,000. FEMA Region III has been working with the West Virginia Office of Emergency Services to offer interested homeowners an opportunity to move out of the most disaster prone areas in the state.
The Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) has provided funds so that about 230 families have been able to sell their flood prone homes and move to higher ground. Unfortunately, the demand far exceeds the HMGP money available. In the last round of project submittals, the state received more than $24 million in project requests when only a little over $2.5 million was available. Current innovative initiatives in the state are providing increased state funding for mitigation projects.