W.Va. Flood Response Ready to Assist with Harvey as Relief Continues In State

Aug 28, 2017

McMechen, West Virginia, resident Paul Broski visited the Disaster Recovery Center to get assistance in the wake of July flooding.
Credit Glynis Board / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

As rain continues to fall throughout southeastern Texas from hurricane Harvey, Governor Jim Justice announced West Virginia is prepared to send resources to assist with emergency efforts, including members of the West Virginia National Guard. Meanwhile, disaster assistance continues in northern counties that experiences flooding in late July.

“West Virginia stands ready, willing and able to provide first responders to assist our fellow Americans in Texas and in other areas along the Gulf Coast as they continue to deal with the massive flooding and devastating damage being caused by Tropical Storm Harvey,” Governor Justice said in a press release.

No requests have been received, but the director of state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Jimmy Gianato reports resources like swift-water rescue teams are being coordinated.

The Home Front

Thomas Kempton, a public information specialist with FEMA, said while many of his colleagues are either enroute or already in Texas, he was dispatched late last week from his home in Anchorage, Alaska, to Marshall and Wetzel counties to help communities hard-hit by flooding a month ago.

FEMA, and the U.S. Small Business Administration, as well as other experts are on hand till there's no longer a need.
Credit Glynis Board / West Virginia Public Broacasting

“We’re here in McMechen, West Virginia,” Kempton said standing in the Marshall County Disaster Recovery Center which is set up in the Bishop Donahue High School gymnasium. “We have representatives from the Small Business Administration, FEMA and experts to help with mitigation.”

Kempton also came to West Virginia last summer after June flooding left 23 dead and devastated homes and communities. While the 2016 floods were more extensive, he says some aspects of the recovering communities look very similar.

“What strikes me about West Virginia is the resiliency of the people. These are people that are used to relying on their neighbors, they’re used to pulling together as a community.”

Kempton recalled working with residents who had trouble proving they owned their flooded homes because the properties had been in the family for six generation.

“So often in different parts of the country you don’t see that kind of solidarity and cohesiveness that you do in West Virginia,” Kempton said. “People here really do reach out and help each other."

The flip side of self-reliance is that people sometimes resist accepting help. Kempton said that can be dangerous with threats like mold and an oncoming winter.

Low interest SBA disaster relief loans are available to residents in affected counties as well as businesses in affected and surrounding counties.
Credit Glynis Board / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

How to Find Help

Meanwhile, federal aid workers are still assisting West Virginians struggling after July 2017 flooding in the northern part of the state.

So far this year Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reports 592 disaster assistance registrations statewide. $1.5 million dollars in assistance grants has been approved. More than a million has already been distributed to community members. Residents in Marshall county have received $353,000 -- more than $300,000 of that for housing claims.

Residents can also get help by visiting Disaster Recovery Centers in Wetzel or Marshall counties, by calling the FEMA helpline 800-621-3362, or registering online:

  • Bishop Donahue High School

325 Logan St.

McMechen, WV, 26040

Marshall County

  • Hundred High School

3490 Hornet Highway

Hundred, WV 26575

Wetzel County

Days and Hours:

Monday - Friday: 8 a.m. - 7 p.m.

Saturday: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Sunday: 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.

Disaster loans are available to residents, organizations and businesses through the U.S. Small Business Administration. FEMA grants are limited to about a $30,000 maximum award, but residents could qualify for low interest loans to help replace personal items, damages that aren’t covered by insurance or FEMA, or even economic disruptions from the flood.

The deadline to apply for those loans in October 17th, 2017.

SBA Loan applications are processed in 10-15 days:

1-800-659-2955

www.disasterloan.sba.gov