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 Governor Justice requests federal disaster declaration for late July flooding


Aug. 14, 2017

Governor Justice requests federal disaster declaration for late July flooding


CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Governor Jim Justice has asked President Trump to declare a major disaster for the State of West Virginia in the wake of the severe late July storms that brought flooding, landslides, mudslides and wind damage to a dozen counties.

Governor Justice explained to the White House in his Aug. 10 request letter that preliminary damage assessments have determined that 161 home were destroyed or suffered major damage in just four of those counties, while another 557 residences received minor damage or were otherwise affected.

“Although it has not garnered the national attention of last year’s catastrophic disaster,” Governor  Justice wrote, referring to the deadly and devastating June 2016 floods, “the survivors of this event absolutely need the Stafford Act and other federal agency assistance that can only be provided by your declaring this event a Major Disaster.”

Governor Justice is requesting all categories of Individual Assistance for Harrison, Marion, Marshall, Ohio and Wetzel Counties, and all categories of Public Assistance for those counties as well as Doddridge, Monongalia, Preston, Randolph, Taylor, Tucker and Tyler.

Governor Justice proclaimed a State of Emergency on July 29 for Harrison, Marion, Marshall, Monongalia, Ohio, Taylor, Tucker and Wetzel counties, implementing the State Emergency Operations Plan as well. He expanded his State of Emergency declaration on Aug. 7 to include Doddridge, Preston and Randolph counties.

Governor Justice said the assessments show that the federal aid is required “to restore the lives of those affected by this disaster to their pre-disaster condition.” The letter specifically requests the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Individuals and Household Program, crisis counseling, disaster legal services and unemployment assistance, and programs from such other agencies as the Small Business Administration and the Federal Highway Administration.

Governor Justice in his letter praised first responders including the swift water rescue teams that performed dozens of successful missions during the July 28-29 storms. Such actions helped to prevent the loss of life or serious injuries. He also referred the president to the significant response and recovery operations of the West Virginia National Guard and the array of “extraordinary” assistance provided by at least a dozen member agencies of the West Virginia Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (WV VOAD).

Governor Justice thanked the president for the prompt dispatching of FEMA officials, who have been conducting Individual Assistance Preliminary Damage Assessment jointly with state officials and “in a timely and thorough manner.” The state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management continues to coordinate the joint PDAs and other elements of the disaster response.

While the disaster declaration request does not encompass the July 23 flooding, which left two dead, the governor cited how that event had “left the state, especially the area struck by these storms, very vulnerable” to the sort of flash flooding triggered by the July 28-29 storms.

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LAWRENCE MESSINA (304) 558-2930 Lawrence.C.Messina@wv.gov