Richwood in Nicholas County was among the hardest hit areas in the 2016 floods, but the State Auditor says only $400,000 out of the $3,000,000 in federal aid was used to help flood victims. That led to the arrest of four current or past city leaders last week.
But some in the community claim that Friday’s arrests were just the tip of the iceberg and that a federal criminal investigation may be appropriate.
“I’m not aware if there is a federal investigation. Usually, those things are kept under pretty close wraps… But I think every dollar needs to be accounted for, it’s our taxpayers’ dollars. But it’s also dollars that are intended to take care of the people that were harmed,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, (R- West Virginia).
When problems with the “RISE West Virginia” program came to light, the governor removed the disaster relief program from the Department of Commerce and turned it over to General James Hoyer and the West Virginia National Guard.
“From my standpoint, I don’t have anything whatsoever to hide from anybody. We did the right thing on every single dollar with the flood thing. We helped every flood victim we could possibly help,” said Gov. Jim Justice, (R-West Virginia).
In total, FEMA gave West Virginia over $150,000,000. So far most of that money – especially for school reconstruction – has still not been spent.
As is so often the case in these matters, the U.S. Department of Justice and the State Auditor say they can neither confirm nor deny the existence of a broader, federal, criminal investigation into flood aid, in West Virginia.