PHILADELPHIA – It has been three years since severe flooding impacted West Virginia, devastating homes, communities, and businesses across the state. The people of West Virginia have not only shown great resilience in their ability to recover, but also in their capacity to come together over the last three years to support one another.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region III and many federal partners have worked jointly with the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (WVDHSEM) to get critical funding to the communities. Regional Administrator MaryAnn Tierney says that “The funding that has been provided to West Virginia has repaired homes, rebuilt roads and bridges, and helped strengthen West Virginia to be more resilient to future flooding, but FEMA’s assistance goes beyond just funding. We have a team working full time in West Virginia to provide technical assistance, training, and build capacity within the state to ensure we are prepared and ready to respond to the next disaster.”
Under FEMA’s Public Assistance Program, $119,504,508.44 has been provided to West Virginia to repair and replace damaged infrastructure; to include parks and recreational areas, public building, roads, bridges and utilities. Recovery is ongoing, and FEMA estimates the total costs of infrastructure repairs will exceed $450 million. These funds will be provided to over 100 state, county and local governments, as well as private nonprofits organizations, to rebuild and improve infrastructure; ensuring resilience against future flooding.
The Buffalo Creek Recreational Trail project is an excellent example of collaboration in recovery between FEMA, The West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and the Clay County Business Development Authority. Over 18 miles of the 22-mile-long trail was damaged by flooding and landslides. The repair project will return the trail to pre-disaster conditions and includes additional funding for mitigation; preventing similar damages from occurring in the future. This project will help preserve the historical and recreational significance of the Buffalo Creek Watershed and the Buffalo Creek Railroad; allowing for future economic development opportunities.
Progress continues to be made in Nicholas and Kanawha Counties on the four major school projects. FEMA’s Draft Environmental Assessment for the new Clendenin Elementary School went out for public review and will remain available until July 6th (www.FEMA.gov/disaster/4273). Environmental Assessments are in process for the proposed sites for Herbert Hoover High School in Kanawha County and the combined Richwood Middle and High School as well as the Summersville Middle School in Nicholas County. Nicholas County Board of Education is projected to receive $177,513,582.00 for the reconstruction cost of their school projects, and initial projections estimate Kanawha County Board of Education to be awarded over 100 Million dollars for their two school projects.
FEMA has also worked to ensure communities are better equipped to understand the requirements of receiving federal funds. Over the last year, FEMA has worked in partnership with the West Virginia State Auditor’s Office and the WVDHSEM to offer procurement training across all 55 counties in West Virginia. Through this partnership localities will get the benefit of advanced training which will greatly increase West Virginia’s capacity to manage FEMA grants.
This week, FEMA is continuing to support West Virginia with the delivery of the Fundamentals of Grants Management Training in Dunbar, West Virginia for 62 West Virginia grant recipients.
FEMA and WVDHSEM also continue to collaborate to assist individuals. Through the Disaster Case Management Grant, FEMA provided $5,035,334.00 in federal funding to the State, who partnered with the WV Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster to provide relief to disaster survivors by connecting them with the resources and services of multiple agencies, this included the development of individual recovery plans that incorporate sustainable assistance for the household’s recovery. Disaster Case Management promotes effective delivery of post-disaster case management services, partner integration, provider capacity building, and state-level program development.
In the days and months following the flood, FEMA’s Individual & Households Program approved $42,360,334.79 to provide financial assistance and direct services to 4,951 eligible individuals and households. As part of the Housing Mission, FEMA provided 44 Manufactured Housing Units to support immediate housing needs.
Through FEMA’s Crisis Counseling Program, West Virginia received two grants, totaling $1,036,100.00 to assist individuals and communities in recovering from the effects of the flooding through the provision of community-based outreach and psycho-educational services. FEMA also provided $213,160.00 in Disaster Unemployment Assistance to individuals whose employment or self-employment had been lost or interrupted due to the flooding.
In addition to funding communities and individuals, FEMA also looks to build resiliency through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) that has been made available to West Virginia following the flooding. In total $52,250,438 in federal funding was made available for communities across the state. Since 2016, FEMA and WVDHSEM has awarded $12,749,617.00 for three home elevations, eight home reconstruction projects and twenty-one generator projects. FEMA continues to work with West Virginia to review and approve additional projects to continue to help survivors mitigate from future disasters in the years to come.
FEMA and the WVDHSEM’s partnership in supporting the communities has only strengthened in the last year with the announcement of the West Virginia FEMA Integration Team in May. This team will continue to support recovery efforts, but through a lessons learned approach. Listening and working with all levels of local and state government, FEMA’s holistic approach will help build a stronger Mountain State.
FEMA’s mission is helping people before, during, and after disasters. FEMA Region III’s jurisdiction includes Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. Learn more about FEMA Region III at www.FEMA.gov/region-iii. Stay informed of FEMA’s activities online: videos and podcasts are available at fema.gov/medialibrary and youtube.com/fema. Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/femaregion3.