Liz McCormick Published

W.Va. Lawmakers Hear Disaster Response Tips

James Hoyer, Jimmy Gianato

One of the first presentations West Virginia lawmakers heard after gaveling in for the 2018 state Legislative session was one to help them more effectively guide their districts in the face of emergencies.

Since 2009, there have been 21 state emergency proclamations, 10 Federal Emergency Management Agency major disaster declarations, and 4 FEMA emergency declarations – that’s according to Jimmy Gianato, Director of the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

Both Gianato and Major General James Hoyer of the West Virginia National Guard spoke with lawmakers about the best steps to take to ensure proper aid is sent efficiently when disasters occur.

Hoyer told lawmakers it’s important to first communicate with their local Emergency Operations Center.

“If you can continue to encourage people at your level in your districts, to flow their requests up through the local EOC,” Hoyer said, “it significantly helps us in managing that overarching piece by flowing things to the right focus points for us to get to.”

Those focus points could include coordinating additional aid or supplies, volunteer groups, or reaching out to FEMA if a situation is bad enough.

“The quicker we can document damage and push it up to FEMA, the sooner we can get a declaration, which means, the flow of federal money comes faster.”

Hoyer and Gianato said, however, districts should be prepared enough to go up to 72 hours before additional aid is sent.