Jessica Lilly Published

Inside Appalachia: Major General James A. Hoyer Discusses a Year of Recovery


Inside Appalachia co-producer and host Jessica Lilly sat down with Major General James A. Hoyer of the WV National Guard to discuss the year of recovery that West Virginia faced since the flooding of June 2016. Parts of this interview are included in a special TV show, “Inside Appalachia: A Year of Recovery.” You can watch the show Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. on WVPB or listen on radio.

In June 2016, floodwaters ravaged parts of West Virginia. Forty-four of the state’s 55 counties were in a state of emergency and 12 counties were declared federal disaster areas. Water carved a path of destruction unseen in generations – earning the title of the 1,000 Year Flood. Twenty-three deaths were attributed to the flood.

Watch the full interview here:

At the height of this disaster, FEMA received about 9,000 applications for assistance. In this interview, Major General James A. Hoyer says W.Va. is doing “pretty good” in the recovery process.

"We are in one lap of a very long race and we’ve got a long way to go… We owe it to the people who lost their lives and the people who were impacted by this to do it right and to do it effectively and to do it in a way that we are a better state and we are better communities than before the flood happened," Major General Hoyer said.

While there are several counties mostly back to normal, Hoyer says there are some areas that still have a long way to go.  Areas that still have the most work left to do include parts of Nicholas, Kanawha, Greenbrier, and Clay Counties.

Benefits of the Flood

The West Virginia National Guard has been overseeing the FEMA demolition project. Hoyer says in connection with some state funding, the FEMA demolition project has provided the resources to take care of existing issues with abandoned buildings.


FEMA Demolition Project By Numbers

  • about 750 applications to request demolition
  • about 600 of those have been certified eligible
  • about 300 have been removed  
  • Hundreds of homes have been rebuilt (with help from donated labor, funds, etc.)

Readying for the Next Disaster

Major General Hoyer told Jessica Lilly that several guards people were impacted by the flood. This created a unique challenge because they often wouldn’t take the time to off to work on their own needs.


Since the flood, the West Virginia National Guard has updated a few strategies in disaster relief.

  • More swift water rescue training
  • Updated social media management strategies
  • Updated information management strategies
  • Commitment to embed reporters during relief
  • Increasing donation management assistance