Wyoming among four counties denied FEMA assistance
Dec. 6—Wyoming County was among four counties denied Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance in the wake of summer flooding events.
Doddridge, Jackson, and Mingo counties were also denied after West Virginia made requests as a result of devastating flooding that impacted the area from mid-July to mid-August.
“We disagree with FEMA’s decision in having deemed the damage from these storms affecting these four counties of not being of the severity and magnitude beyond the capabilities of the state and the affected local government,” said GE McCabe, director of the West Virginia Emergency Management Division.
“Part of their decision was based on — we had submitted documentation that showed how these storms, for this period of time, had continued to rain and, as you (Gov. Jim Justice) said before, our grounds continued to be saturated, and the runoff from these storms, in creating these flooding events.
“But FEMA and the National Weather Service have classified these storms as four separate events, which has played into part of their decision,” McCabe said.
“We are going to continue to work with the counties that were denied in gathering information that is going to be needed, so we can file an appeal on FEMA’s decision,” he said.
“I can promise you without any question, we’ll keep pushing,” Gov. Justice emphasized. “It’s not fair in lots of ways, in my opinion, from the standpoint of classifying these as four different events.
“If it rains and the ground gets totally saturated, then all of a sudden we don’t have any real relief where the ground is able to absorb an additional significant rainfall, and then, all of a sudden, you have an event like we’ve had.
“We’re pushing, we’re pushing as hard as we can…
“Washington can be Washington, so we’re going to keep at it.
“We do believe we’ll need that level of relief and we do believe we’re qualified,” the governor said.
McCabe noted the state will also continue to work with Fayette and McDowell counties, which were both approved in previous federal disaster declarations.
—-In October, Justice formally requested federal assistance for damage caused by severe weather and flooding from July 12 to Aug. 15, during which West Virginia received up to 200 percent of its normal precipitation and did not see one 24-hour period without rainfall.
The prolonged weather event resulted in flooded homes, schools and businesses, washed-out roadways, and miles of damaged or destroyed water and sewage lines.
“Due to the damages incurred by these communities in the wake of the wettest summer on record for West Virginia, supplementary federal assistance is necessary to ensure the protection of life, property, public health, and safety, and to avert the threat of further disaster,” Justice said when making the request.
—On July 14, Justice declared a state of emergency for McDowell County due to significant flooding that damaged more than 75 homes, nearly a dozen bridges, and numerous roads throughout the county.
—On July 28, Justice declared a state of emergency for Fayette, Greenbrier, Logan, McDowell, Mingo, and Wyoming counties after severe thunderstorms, heavy rains, and high winds caused significant local flooding, downed trees, power outages, disruption to potable water systems, and road blockages.
—On Aug. 15, Justice declared a state of emergency for Fayette and Kanawha counties due to significant flooding that damaged more than 100 homes, roads and bridges throughout the counties.
At the time of the request in October, West Virginia was managing eight open federally declared disasters.