West Virginia Legislature Approves State Funds for Flood Assistance
Gov. Earl Ray Tomplin had called an extraordinary session to pass the bill that will put $85 million in state money toward recovery costs from the June 23 flood, which affected most of the state's 55 counties.
Both houses of the West Virginia Legislature have approved a bill that will put $85 million in state money toward recovery costs from the June 23 flooding that affected most of the state's 55 counties, with Gov. Earl Ray Tomplin thanking the legislators on Monday after summoning them for an extraordinary session to pass the bill. The money covers West Virginia's 25 percent share of expenses incurred as a result of the June 2016 flooding in 12 counties.
"I thank the Legislature for promptly approving this funding as West Virginians continue rebuilding after these devastating floods. With state funding now available, we can continue covering our share of costs and working closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to determine whether West Virginia will ultimately qualify for the federal government to cover 90 percent of all disaster-related expenses. The damages of this flooding were far-reaching, and the recovery process will take years. By maximizing federal support and continuing to do our share, we can make that process much smoother for impacted communities, businesses, and families," Tomblin said in a statement.
The flooding killed 23 people, destroyed more than 1,400 homes and 50 businesses, and damaged an additional 2,300 homes and 200 businesses. Tomblin said damage to public infrastructure will end up totaling hundreds of millions of dollars.
Tomblin called the session for Sept. 18 and the legislators worked quickly, with the House of Delegates voting 92-1 for the bill and Senate passage occurring on Monday.
Tomblin created RISE West Virginia to assist small businesses affected by the flooding. It is a public-private mini-grant program offering grants up to $10,000 that such businesses can tap to help them recover and reopen; the program is co-sponsored by West Virginia native and Intuit CEO and Chairman Brad Smith and is overseen by the West Virginia Development Office in partnership with the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce.
Tomblin had declared a state of emergency for 44 of the state's 55 counties during the flooding.