CHARLESTON, W. Va. – The US Route 60 flash flood on August 15 caused extensive damage in eastern Kanawha County, but not enough for federal disaster assistance.
Gov. Jim Justice’s office learned Thursday that the Biden administration has denied Kanawha County’s request for public and individual assistance following flooding that damaged infrastructure and homes in Campbells Creek and Hughes Creek.
“We are very frustrated with this decision,” said state Emergency Management Division Director GE McCabe. “The Governor’s Office and WVEMD worked hard with Kanawha County officials to complete damage assessments and ensure the application met the criteria to receive assistance. Although we are disappointed, WVEMD is now working with the
Governor’s office to appeal the decision.
Kanawha County Commission Chairman Kent Carper said he felt bad for flood victims.
“It was a White House decision. Governor Justice did everything and beyond. It was a Biden White House decision, shame on them,” Carper said.
FEMA said there was not enough damage in Kanawha County to get help because most damaged homes had water in crawl spaces and basements. FEMA also said damage to much of the infrastructure, including roads and other areas, is covered by other federal funding.
Carper called it “Alphabet Soup, Washington Beltway.”
“They’ve come up with this new thing where they don’t allow projects that have already been paid for under certain federal programs,” Carper said.
Fayette County suffered damage in the same August 15 flood. The county learned Wednesday that he had been approved for public assistance. The same goes for McDowell County which was flooded on July 12 and 13.
Bobby Bowman, deputy director of the McDowell County Office of Emergency Services, said the federal statement was for public assistance, not individual homes.
“There is not enough money to meet the individual aid criteria,” he said. “With all the bridges and roads, including the damage to the dam, that was enough to declare a federal disaster.”
Bowman said the amount of damage was “significant”.
“Several million dollars in public aid, now what they get back, I’m not sure how it’s going to go. They will get some of it back,” he said.
Much of the work to repair damaged roads and bridges has already been completed, Bowman said.
“Much of this has already been corrected. The state has been working on it since it happened, whether it has contracts or otherwise. With this public assistance, they will be able to recoup the expenses that come with it,” did he declare.
Areas affected included Warriormine and Berwind.
Bowman said 75 homes and dozens of roads and bridges were damaged in McDowell County.
Govt. Justice declared a state of emergency for McDowell County at the time to expedite the state’s response to water damage in the county. Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin declared a similar state of emergency for Buchanan County.
Carper said the county commission called the state congressional delegation on Thursday after learning of the rejection.
“It’s a federal government responsibility, it’s a program there, and in my opinion, they’ve let the people of West Virginia down miserably,” Carper said. “Our only hope is that our congressional delegation brings the White House to its senses, assuming it has any.”
McCabe said the state will work on the appeal for Kanawha County, but is also awaiting word from the White House on requests for further summer flooding.
“We remain hopeful for positive news regarding Doddridge, Jackson and Mingo counties which remain under federal review,” McCabe said.
MetroNews reporter Carrie Hodousek contributed to this story.
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