Briana Heaney Published

Flooding Committee Hears Update On Damage And FEMA Response

A blurry image of flooding in front of a home.
Flash flooding in Kanawha County.
Anna Goodnight

The legislature’s Joint Committee on Flooding met Sunday to discuss the recent flooding in eastern Kanawha County. 

Members of the committee learned that two homes were completely destroyed, 32 homes have major damage, 54 homes have minor damage, and 22 private bridges were destroyed in the flash floods that took place along Little, Fields, and Slaughters creeks in late August. 

Director of Kanawha County’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management, C.W. Sigman says only 9 percent of residents affected by the flood had flood insurance.  

“They are not going to get compensated 100 percent. They’ll have enough money, if we get a FEMA declaration, to kind-of get them back on their feet,” Sigman said.  

The community has not received a disaster declaration from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) yet. If there is a FEMA declaration there will be public and individual assistance. Public assistance will aid in recovering infrastructure while individual assistance will help homeowners. 

Emergency Alert Sytems

Sigman also discussed the need for better alert systems for rural communities since many flood victims did not receive any emergency warning until after the flood had begun. 

“We’re looking at putting sirens in. We just put some in in the Loudendale area,” Sigman said. 

However Sigman said that sirens are not the most effective alert system in mountainous regions like West Virginia. He said that better cell phone connectivity would be another possible way to reach rural residents. 

“I am an old volunteer firefighter. Sirens (are) not very good at alerting volunteers. It’s not gonna be very effective for alerting the public,” Sigman said. “So that wireless emergency alert is a proven performer on your cell phone.”