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W.Va. State Leaders Petition Obama for Flood Relief

clendenin6__1_.jpg
Kara Lofton
Clendenin, West Virginia in the aftermath of June 2016 flooding.

In a rare unified effort, Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito joined with Representatives David McKinley, Alex Mooney, Evan Jenkins, and Governor Tomblin today to petition president Obama on behalf of flood victims in the state.  

23 are dead and eight counties are still under a state of emergency after flooding this June. The delegation from West Virginia pointed out in a letter that 5,000 homes and businesses were damaged, and 90 percent carried no flood insurance.

Dear Mr. President:   The hardworking men and women of West Virginia have pulled together to help each other rebuild from the devastating one-in-a-thousand-year floods that inundated their communities earlier this year and led to a major disaster declaration on June 25, 2016 (DR-4273). While we are humbled by the heroic actions of our first responders and the thousands of individual citizens who helped friends, neighbors and complete strangers escape rising flood waters, we now find ourselves unable to help many of these same individuals begin down their own road to recovery, and we urge you to include West Virginia in any Presidential supplemental appropriations request that your Administration may submit to Congress.   In West Virginia, more than two months after the deadly June floods that killed 23 people, eight counties remain under a state of emergency. More than 5,000 homes and businesses were damaged during the disaster and over 70% of all applicants incurred at least some FEMA-verified loss. Unfortunately, much like Louisiana, the vast majority of the flooded homes and businesses (nearly 90%) did not carry flood insurance at the time of the disaster, and, according to FEMA estimates, the average grant award for each eligible West Virginian will be less than $9,000. The challenge we face is clear – without additional assistance, these individuals and the communities in which they live simply cannot afford to rebuild.    We strongly support West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s request for $310 million in disaster funding for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG-DR) program to address the critical unmet needs of our constituents. The additional CDBG-DR funding requested by the Governor would help homeowners rebuild safer and stronger. It would give our small businesses an opportunity to reinvest in the communities on which they depend. It would give these communities the resources they need to reduce their exposure to flood threats and promote sustainable development for decades to come. It would be a shame to miss this opportunity. While the scope and scale of this disaster may seem relatively small to some, we cannot forget the 23 men, women and children whom we lost during these floods.   This was one of the deadliest disasters our country has experienced this year, and we owe it to the memory of those that we lost to do everything in our power to ensure a tragedy like this never happens here again.    Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

 
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s separate  letter to the president asked for 310 million dollars in disaster funding through the Community Development Block Grant program. In his request, Tomblin also pointed out that, “Most of the areas devastated by floods were towns and communities that had been reliant on coal. The industry’s downturn has left most of the with no capacity to build back on their own.”

FEMA estimates the average grant award for each eligible West Virginian will be less than 9 thousand dollars. Tomblin announced Tuesday total damages in the state topped $300 million.


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