- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 3, 2011

President Obama has granted Gov. Bob McDonnell’s request for federal assistance to state and local governments in Virginia for recovery from Hurricane Irene, Mr. McDonnell announced Saturday.

Mr. McDonnell on Friday asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for a federal disaster declaration to help 22 local governments recover from Hurricane Irene, which killed four people and caused about $39 million in damage to public property and emergency response costs.

“I want to thank FEMA for making a quick decision on our request for disaster assistance,” Mr. McDonnell said. “I expect to pursue additional disaster assistance once our damage assessments are complete.”

The declaration makes FEMA’s Public Assistance Program available to cover eligible government and certain nonprofit costs for damage to critical infrastructure, roads, buildings and equipment, debris removal and related emergency services.

Eligible localities include the counties of Essex, Isle of Wight, James City, Lancaster, Middlesex, New Kent, Richmond, Southampton, Sussex, Westmoreland and York; and the cities of Chesapeake, Emporia, Hampton, Hopewell, Newport News, Norfolk, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Virginia Beach and Williamsburg.

FEMA indicated that additional localities could be added at a further date after further evaluation; damage assessment teams have visited the counties of Accomack, Henrico, King and Queen, Mathews, Northampton and Surry and the cities of Franklin and Richmond, and the town of Chincoteague.

In addition to the public assistance program, Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funds were approved for the entire state. That program provides money for government projects to help reduce disaster risks by protecting homes and businesses against further damage.

Virginia has not yet requested federal assistance for individuals or businesses, as damage to homes and private properties is still being evaluated. Mr. McDonnell expects to make a decision on whether or not to pursue assistance for individuals and businesses next week.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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