West Virginia governor Jim Justice announced Tuesday, July 3, that he is seeking a major disaster declaration from the president for flooding in Morgan, Berkeley, Hampshire, Grant, Hardy, Jefferson, Mineral and Pendleton counties in early June.
Governor Justice submitted the request letter, dated June 28, to the Federal Emergency Management Agency requesting public assistance for flood recovery efforts.
An attachment to the letter estimates that $2.3 million in Federal Highway Administration funds have been spent by the eight counties since the June 3 flooding.
Of that, his office estimated $409,000 has been spent in Morgan County. In Hampshire County, that estimate is $649,000 and $960,000 in Mineral County. Damage in Hardy County was estimated to cost $253,000 in highway funds.
“Emergency protective measures, debris removal and emergency repairs to public infrastructure have been conducted professionally and as rapidly as circumstances have permitted. Long-term repairs and mitigation measures to lessen future damage will be essential for the affected communities in the eight (8) counties for which I am requesting Public Assistance. The required joint Preliminary Damage Assessment has identified over $4,500,000 in eligible costs and damage in the affected counties,” the request letter says.
In the days and weeks following heavy rains and then flash flooding in the area on June 3, local emergency management officials told local residents it was unlikely the area would qualify for a federal disaster declaration. That declaration, if granted by the president, makes individuals and businesses eligible for federal assistance through FEMA, the Small Business Administration and other agencies.
Local requests by private property owners for government help have been turned down since the flooding.
Most of the local damage has been to culverts, bridges and driveways that were washed out in flash flooding. Homes and businesses were also affected by flooding.
Public roads in Morgan County continue to show signs of damage and deterioration a month after the flood. Cold Run Valley Road west of Berkeley Springs is still closed, and there are dozens of sections of roadway across the county where shoulders have buckled or given way because they were undercut by floodwaters.
Division of Highways crews have focused on restoring access to all parts of the county by rebuilding bridges and replacing sections of culverts and roadway where that damage made roads impassable.
Governor Justice has requested “all categories of Public Assistance” for the eight counties and hazard mitigation for the entire state.
“I believe this event created conditions that are beyond local and state capability to effective respond, and that West Virginia absolutely requires Stafford Act and other federal agency assistance that can only be provided by your declaring this event a Major Disaster to recover from this disaster and mitigate future losses,” the governor has written.