CHARLESTON (AP) — West Virginia’s congressional delegation is backing Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s call for the federal government to reconsider its denial of individual assistance to residents from a June 29 windstorm.
All five members of the delegation on Friday wrote a joint letter to President Barack Obama appealing the decision by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. They also asked FEMA administrator W. Craig Fugate to meet with Tomblin and the delegation.
The derecho and subsequent storms left three people dead and more than 680,000 customers without electricity across the state.
“We saw firsthand the devastation that the storms and extended power outages caused in our communities, our economy, and to our people,” said the letter, signed by Sens. Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefeller and Reps. Nick Rahall, Shelley Moore Capito and David McKinley.
“Many of the residents who were affected by the storm — and who are now being denied Individual Assistance — are elderly, or disabled and live on a fixed income. Even during the best of times, many of these West Virginians struggle to maintain basic necessities.”
Also Friday, Tomblin asked teams of FEMA and state Homeland Security officials to begin reassessing damage to homes and property to give FEMA more information.
“I strongly encourage all West Virginians, with storm-related damage to their homes and property, to report the damages to their local emergency management offices,” Tomblin said. “Assessment teams will then travel throughout our communities and review all damage reported.”
Tomblin said food losses and the costs of private generators don’t need to be reported because the federal government doesn’t allow for reimbursements of these costs.
Obama last month issued a disaster declaration to cover emergency work, repair and replacement of public facilities in 45 counties.