Funding coming for Pine St. damage

Martha Sparks msparks@civitasmedia.com

November 20, 2013

CHARLESTON — Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Congressman Nick Rahall announced Wednesday afternoon that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has provided a waiver to allow the City of Logan to use federal funding to acquire and demolish five residential properties on Pine Street in Logan and permanently close the roadway.

Pine Street sustained significant damage from severe storms, flooding, mudslides and landslides between March 15 and 31, 2012, making repairs and restoration difficult and costly.

“In an effort to help the residents who live on Pine Street I directed my team at the West Virginia Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM) to work with the City of Logan to come up with a cost effective solution to address the deteriorating road, the eroded embankment and most importantly the safety of the families who live there,” Gov. Tomblin said. “Through the collaborative efforts of DHSEM and the City, we are now moving forward with relocating these families from a dangerously situated embankment and a roadway which could be susceptible to future damage. I’m grateful for FEMA’s attention to this matter and their decision to grant this waiver.”

Rahall, who provides strong leadership on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives with jurisdiction over FEMA, in coordination with State and City officials, contacted FEMA Director Craig Fugate directly and pressed the agency for the waiver.

“Using my seniority and Committee position, I pressed hard for the Federal waiver. I spoke personally with FEMA Director Craig Fugate and impressed upon him the damage to Pine Street and the desperate plight of the families who struggle to access their homes. After the repeated flooding these residents have suffered through and the many attempts to resolve the issue, I am glad my intervention helped to break the logjam and implement a far less expensive and more permanent solution than had previously been possible,” Rahall said. “I appreciate Mayor Nolletti for bringing this issue to my attention and Governor Tomblin for working with me to seek resolution.”

In lieu of the restoration of the roadway, the City of Logan submitted a request on August 23, 2013, to the State for an alternate project to utilize the funding to acquire and demolish five residential properties located on Pine Street. The State of West Virginia forwarded the request to FEMA on August 28.

“It was going to cost more to fix the slide than to buy these five residents out,” Nolletti said. “It was going to cost anywhere from a million to a million and a half dollars to fix that slide.”

Nolletti said he was grateful that Tomblin and Rahall stepped up to help the City of Logan out.

“We can finally get those five homeowners out of harm’s way,” Nolletti said. “Hopefully they will stay in the City.”

The State of West Virginia and the City of Logan have agreed to close the roadway, which will not be eligible for Public Assistance funding in any future major disaster or emergency declarations.

The waiver from FEMA also includes permitting the City to pave seven city-owned streets.