The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in coordination with West Virginia Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (WVDHSEM), the West Virginia School Building Authority, the Kanawha County Board of Education, the Nicholas County Board of Education, and the applicant’s contractor(s), including their environmental contractors, are working in partnership to complete environmental assessments for the replacement of four flood damaged schools in Kanawha County and Nicholas County, West Virginia.
In Kanawha County, two environmental assessments are required. They are for the replacement of Clendenin Elementary School with a consolidated Kanawha County Elementary School at the proposed Wolverton Mountain Road site and the replacement of Herbert Hoover High School at the Given Fork site. Two environmental assessments are also required for Nicholas County. They are for the replacement of Summersville Middle School with a consolidated Nicholas County Middle School, High School and Technical Education Center, and the replacement of Richwood Middle School and High School with a new facility at the Cherry River Elementary School site.
Environmental assessments are prepared to thoroughly document and evaluate impacts of federally funded actions on the natural and built environment. The document serves to gather evidence and analysis on available alternatives to satisfy requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Draft documents will be available to the public to provide an opportunity for involvement and input in the decision process in accordance with the law. The environmental assessment process concludes with a one of two decision documents, either a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) or the Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). FEMA along with the contractor(s) are developing report language and conducting assessments appropriate to each site, including capturing permitting requirements and conducting necessary studies at each location. FEMA is also coordinating with state and federal resource agencies, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office to complete the required interagency consultations.
Multiple revisions of an environmental assessment draft document are not uncommon during large development projects, such as those proposed to rebuild the schools damaged in 2016. All parties have been actively engaged in this process to ensure that it completed as quickly as practical. While the environmental assessment process is ongoing FEMA is holding regular meetings and providing weekly updates on the status and next steps for all four environmental assessments. FEMA will continue coordination with all parties until the NEPA requirements have been satisfied.