- Associated Press - Thursday, July 14, 2016

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginians who are trying to rebuild their lives from last month’s severe floods could be almost completely reliant on federal agencies.

Slumping tax revenue and budget constraints mean the state’s role in helping homeowners, businesses and local governments rebuild from last month’s deadly floods could be limited, The Charleston Gazette-Mail reported (https://bit.ly/29KnVkq).

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said at a news conference Wednesday that he hopes the state’s rainy day fund will be used to cover 25 percent of the costs of reconstructing public buildings and other infrastructure. The Federal Emergency Management Agency will cover the other 75 percent.

“Obviously, we do have the money there,” Tomblin said of the rainy day fund. “Hopefully, the Legislature, at the appropriate time, will allow us to take that money.”

In terms of repairing the estimated 2,500 damaged houses, though, Tomblin said he is not considering spending any additional money to supplement the federal disaster relief funding.

The June 23 floods killed 23 people and caused more than $55 million in damage to roads and bridges.

For businesses without flood insurance, owners are going to be reliant on loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration or private lenders, which, in some instances, can be insured by the West Virginia Economic Development Authority. That money needs to be paid back, with interest.

Homeowners without insurance will have to rely on the federal grants that FEMA provides through the agency’s individual disaster assistance. Homeowners can receive a maximum of $33,000.

“When FEMA was created, it was created to give folks a step towards recovery - to get them safe, to get them sheltered - but it was never really meant to make them whole again, like they were pre-disaster” said Albie Lewis, the federal coordinating officer for FEMA, who spoke with the governor.

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Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, https://wvgazettemail.com.


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