Legislative Committees Updated on Infrastructure Damage from June Floods
Two legislative interim committees received updates Sunday on the state of West Virginia’s recovery since June’s flooding.
Infrastructure came first during a meeting of the Joint Legislative Oversight Commission on Department of Transportation Accountability.
DOT Secretary Paul Mattox told lawmakers the state’s highways, roads and bridges suffered $55.5 million dollars in damage. That damage was largely focused in three counties- Clay, Kanawha and Greenbrier- and Mattox said significant progress has been made in repairs in those areas.
“This storm basically impacted two of our districts- District 9 which is in Lewisburg and District 1 here in Charleston. In Lewisburg, they’re about 80 percent complete as far as repairing flood-damaged roads," he told the committee.
"District 1 is probably about 40 percent complete as far as getting the roads back to where they were before the flood.”
Mattox estimateed that flood-affected routes in the Greenbrier County area will be back to normal within 4 to 6 weeks. In the Kanawha and Clay County areas, Mattox said it will take slightly longer because of the extent of the damage.
Still, for lawmakers, the biggest question was money- how much money the state will ultimately be on the hook for when it comes to repairs?
Mattox explained West Virginia will have to pay for 25 percent of the total damage with reimbursements of up to 75 percent coming from two federal agencies- the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Highways program with a total $12.5 to $15 million coming from the state Road Fund that will not be reimbursed.
From flood-damaged roads to schools, the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Education was also updated on the cost of the damage to public schools across the 12-county federal disaster area.
“We had a total of 33 facilities that were impacted or damaged by the flood in 11 counties and that damage ranged from very minor to of course quite severe in a few cases," Cindy Daniel, West Virginia’s Deputy Superintendent told the committee.
Daniel said public schools in the affected counties suffered $186 million in total damages.
Two counties- Kanawha and Nicholas- had to close five schools combined. Those facilities will need to be replaced, but all of the affected students are in temporary classrooms at either previously closed schools or sharing space with students at other county facilities.
Daniel said it will be up to the counties, the West Virginia School Building Authority and FEMA to work together to fund replacement schools.
Lawmakers are expected to be called into a special session in September to address associated recovery costs with the flood. That money will likely come from emergency accounts, including the state’s Rainy Day Fund.