When flood waters swept through Clendenin, Elkview and many other communities in 2016, there was an unknown problem with getting federal aid, that was just revealed this week.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, had put West Virginia on probation for disaster relief in 2012. The letter was sent to then Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Jimmy Gianato, who apparently did not forward the letter to the governor’s office or legislature. In many cases, federal aid was delayed up to 90-days. It turns out the unknown-problem dates back almost a decade.
“Yes, it’s extremely disappointing… Our agencies that direct those funds in the state have been under scrutiny of the federal government since 2009,” said State Sen. Mitch Carmichael, (R) Jackson – Senate President.
Gianato has since been transferred to a homeland security advisor for the state. This comes off the heels of the troubled Rise West Virginia flood recovery program, that had to be removed from the Commerce Department after millions of dollars in federal aid went undistributed for months.
“We have flooding in West Virginia a lot. That’s a disaster that happens in West Virginia with regularity. And we have to be sure we’re in a position to get people properly cared for when that happens,” said Del. Roger Hanshaw, (R) Clay – House Speaker.
The Legislative Auditor continues to investigate and lawmakers are promising to get disaster aid fixed in the Mountain State.
“Since it has come to light, we are going to ensure that these monies are received correctly, dispersed correctly and that they are helping people recover from these disasters,” said State Sen. Mitch Carmichael, (R) Jackson – Senate President.
West Virginia is the only state in the nation, to essentially be put on probation by FEMA for emergency assistance.
For now the RISE West Virginia flood program remains under the jurisdiction of General James Hoyer and the West Virginia National Guard. By most accounts people say they are doing a great job.