By: Beth Sergentbsergent@heartlandpublications.com
July 24, 2012
MASON COUNTY — This week President Barack Obama issued a federal disaster declaration for 45 counties in West Virginia, including Mason County.
The declaration provides assistance for emergency work and the repair or replacement of public facilities damaged on June 29 during the storms which caused major power outages. It’s not known if federal money will be made available for individuals who sustained losses. In Mason County, staff with the Mason County Office of Emergency Management had set up a call center last week to take damage reports from residents in the hopes that reporting the incidents could help with an application for these funds for individual losses.
In addition to Mason County, the following counties are eligible to receive the federal public assistance funding: Barbour, Boone, Braxton, Cabell, Calhoun, Clay, Doddridge, Fayette, Gilmer, Grant, Greenbrier, Hardy, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson, Kanawha, Lewis, Lincoln, Logan, Marshall, McDowell, Mercer, Mingo, Monroe, Nicholas, Pendleton, Pleasants, Pocahontas, Preston, Putnam, Raleigh, Randolph, Ritchie, Roane, Summers, Tucker, Tyler, Upshur, Wayne, Webster, Wetzel, Wirt, Wood and Wyoming.
Hazard Mitigation grants will also be made available as a result of this week’s declaration. All counties are eligible to apply for this financial assistance for actions taken to prevent or reduce long-term risk to life and property from natural hazards.
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) issued the following statement about the declaration: “West Virginians are some of the most resilient people in the world, but the massive storms late last month took a tremendous toll on our state. I’m pleased that the President quickly granted this disaster declaration, and I look forward to helping our communities as they work to rebuild our public infrastructure.”
Manchin sent a letter to the President supporting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s request for the declaration.
U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) also issued the following statement about the declaration: “The President’s disaster declaration will help to get the ball rolling toward recovery, and I welcome the Federal aid for emergency work and repair of our State’s public facilities and critical services, as well as for implementing long-term hazard mitigation measures to reduce the impact of future storms. Our disaster recovery and assessment experts did double duty assessing damage while speeding recovery work. I commend Governor Tomblin and his team and I was pleased to work with them in pressing FEMA and the President to act quickly.”
Rahall, who serves as the Ranking Member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee with jurisdiction over FEMA, said he has been working to facilitate the State of West Virginia’s request, meeting earlier this month at the White House with the President about the needs of West Virginia residents and businesses and urging expeditious action on any State disaster request.
A meeting about the storm’s aftermath as well as what went right and what could’ve been done better in terms of meeting the needs of the public will be held at 10 a.m., Wednesday, July 25 at the 911 center with local officials and emergency responders attending.