West Virginia lawmakers continue to investigate the program created to help flood victims rebuild their homes. RISE WV is under fire for suspicious contracts and temporarily suspending it’s program.
In the meantime other recovery groups, like the Greater Kanawha Long Term Recovery Committee, has been working to get flood victims back on their feet.
Susan Jack is a Clendenin flood victim herself and now heads up an organization helping coordinate donations to others.
“We’ve been focused more on rehabilitation of homes and we do that through volunteer labor and we have a pot of donated dollars that came in,” Jack told 13 News.
At first the Greater Kanawha Long Term Recovery Committee (GKLTRC) waited on RISE for some cases, using donations for others who may not qualify for the RISE program.
“In the beginning, yeah we waited, but after a while we just said no we have to get these people taken care of because it’s been a long haul,” Jack added.
While Jack is frustrated, she’s looking forward to what her committee can do to continue helping homeowners without RISE.
“We were actually approached by an international organization that’s teaming with us now. It’s going to be kind of like a merger or a phasing out of Long Term and going with this faith-based organizationm,” Jack explained.
But lawmakers still want to know what happened to all the federal dollars that went to RISE, and why there were such delays in getting that money to flood victims.
“Trying to get to the bottom of what took place and not necessarily for the purpose of pointing fingers, but for the purpose of making sure we avoid this happening in the future, and again making sure this money is being spent properly and spent quickly,” House Speaker Tim Armstead told 13 News.
Speaker Armstead says the Governor Office has promised that safeguards are now in place and the RISE program is back up and running.
“Our top priority right now is to make sure that funding is not tied up, it’s not sitting on a shelf, that it’s actually getting out to the community and making sure people are in their homes,” Armstead added.
The West Virginia Attorney General’s Office says they cannot comment on the RISE issue because of potential litigation. There’s been no word as to whether HUD or any organization plans to sue the state. We’ll be sure to keep you updated.