KANAWHA COUNTY, W. Va. (WOWK) –Officials say slowly, but surely, final plans are moving forward to build several new West Virginia schools following the floods of 2016.
Sunday marks three years since the historic floods. In all, 25 schools were damaged across the state, and a handful of schools were completely destroyed and must be rebuilt elsewhere.
One of those projects includes a new elementary school in Clendenin. Last year, the Kanawha County Board of Education voted to combine Bridge Elementary and Clendenin Elementary into one new school.
The School Building Authority, in conjunction with the Kanawha County Board of Education, has applied to the Federal Emergency Management Agency Public Assistance grant program for funding through the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
As made mandatory with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, FEMA has drafted an environmental assessment for the proposed construction of the new school, outside of the special flood hazard area.
On Tuesday, the Kanawha County Board of Education held an information session at Elkview Middle School. According to FEMA officials, the meeting is required to let the public know where the progress stands.
“Public involvement is actually a mandate,” said Stephanie Everfield, the Regional Environmental Officer, FEMA 3. “We have to involve the public in everything we do. So their input matters to us.”
Those interested have 30 days, until July 6th, to submit their thoughts and comments on the draft environmental assessment of the property where the new school will be built.
“This is halfway through the process and we still have another 15 days.” said Ron Duerring, the Superintendent for Kanawha County Schools.
He added, “Once that period ends, then the environmental assessment can happen, which means we can then break land and move forward with the construction and get these kids back in schools, which is something we have wanted for a really long time.”