Governor Tomblin requests FEMA Individual Assistance
Charleston, W.Va. – Last Friday, West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin requested individual assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency – FEMA – for losses in 24 counties, including Pocahontas County, due to the June 29 windstorm.
FEMA’s Individual Assistance program includes a range of programs, including home repair, temporary housing, grants for serious disaster-related needs and expenses not covered by insurance or other assistance programs. Federal assistance has already been granted for damage to public infrastructure.
Tomblin stated in a press release on Friday:
“The storms were unlike any weather event we’d ever faced, and they affected nearly every family and business in the West Virginia. People across the Mountain State had damage to structures and lost food, wages and medicine,” said Gov. Tomblin. “We have spent the last several weeks assessing the damage and gathering the data needed for this request, and it is clear that we have many folks who need this help.”
Senator Joe Manchin wrote to President Obama:
“[T]he scope of these storms was devastating, and the inclusion of individual assistance to the major disaster declaration would provide much-needed aid to West Virginians who are struggling, not only with the costs of rebuilding, but also with the basic hardships of surviving.”
Congressman Nick Rahall stated in a press release:
“With the significant financial losses incurred by West Virginia residents and businesses, I am hopeful that the State’s request for individual assistance will be approved quickly,” said Rahall. “I have spoken with the President and FEMA officials and secured a commitment that our State’s request and special circumstances will be fully considered. I will continue to do all that I can in ensuring that Federal aid is expedited in every way possible.”
A congressional infrastructure subcommittee is investigating how to prevent storm damage, such as occurred on June 29. During the subcommittee meeting on July 24, West Virginia Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Jimmy Gianato said:
“The widespread devastation this storm produced in West Virginia was without precedent. No two disasters are alike. This latest storm … is unlike anything we have seen and the impact on the citizens is not like a traditional disaster. The key is having the flexibility in the law so that FEMA and the Administration can work through the different problems as we come to them.”
Governor Tomblin specifically requested federal assistance including Individual and Households Program, Disaster Unemployment Assistance, Disaster Legal services, Disaster Supplemental Food Nutrition Assistance Program and Crisis Counseling, and Small Business Administration disaster loans.
FEMA can approve the individual assistance program on a by-county basis and a governor can appeal a FEMA decision. In August 2011, South Dakota Governor Dennis Dauggard successully appealed a FEMA decision to deny individual assistance to 11 counties hit by flooding.
The Governor’s request for public assistance was granted by President Obama on July 23.