West Virginia officials are seeking $11.3 million in federal assistance for damage sustained during a series of winter storms followed by flooding in February and March of this year.
The state submitted applications to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, better known as FEMA, last month, seeking support for the damage that left at least 97,000 Appalachian Electric Power customers without power, some for almost three weeks in freezing temperatures.
G.E. McCabe, director of the West Virginia Division of Emergency Management, told the West Virginia Legislature Joint Committee on Flooding Monday that staff in Gov. Jim Justice’s Office had submitted the applications.
The ice storms and subsequent flooding a couple of weeks later also left some West Virginians stranded in their own homes as fallen trees and other debris blocked and damaged roads.
McCabe, who was appointed to his post on Jan. 27, said he spent the first few weeks of his job coordinating response efforts and visiting areas affected by the late winter storms.
“We’ve been through a lot,” McCabe said. “We got hit with a lot of things with these two disasters back-to-back. This is trial by fire.”
Three separate winter storms hit West Virginia between Feb. 11 and 14, leading to the widespread power outages.
State officials declared five counties to be disaster areas as a result of the storm: Cabell, Lincoln, Mason, Putnam and Wayne.
Combined, those counties sustained at least $5,338,813 in damages, according to a slide McCabe presented Monday.
At one point in February, West Virginia had the highest total number of outages and percentage of outages among customers throughout the country Sunday and Monday, according to national outage trackers powered by Data Fusion Solutions and Bluefield Studios LLC.
Between Feb. 27 and March 4, people and property in six counties sustained enough damage for state officials to declare them disaster areas, with Lincoln and Wayne having the unfortunate distinction of being declared disaster areas from both events.
The other four counties that were declared disaster areas from the flooding were Boone, Kanawha, Logan, and Mingo.
Those counties have sustained $5,982,480 in damages, according to another slide McCabe presented Monday.
Members of the West Virginia Army National Guard responded to Wayne County in February to help clear debris there, and inmates with the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation who had the appropriate training also were dispatched to the disaster-affected areas to help clean-up, McCabe said Monday.
To date, the bulk of the costs associated with the storms have gone toward repairs completed by the Division of Highways, McCabe said.