Ashton Marra Published

W.Va. Legislature Passes Flood Relief Bill

The West Virginia Senate has approved a bill to send $85 million in state aid to counties impacted by June’s flooding.

Senators voted 32-0 Monday completing the Legislature’s work on the bill.

The bill appropriates $21 million from lottery reserves, $9 million from an unappropriated surplus from the previous fiscal year, and $55 million from the state’s Rainy Day Fund.

The $85 million in appropriations account for 25 percent of nearly $340 million in damage caused by the June 23 flood. The Federal Emergency Management Agency will pay the other 75 percent of the cost, but Gov. Tomblin has asked the White House to increase that match to 90/10.

“It was necessary that we put the 25 percent on the table to prove to the federal government that we were in,” Senate President Bill Cole said after the vote. “I am certainly hopeful that we get to the 90/10 match that the governor is working on so that will mean that a lot of this money will come back to the state.”

Putnam County Sen. Chris Walters, who represents the hard-hit communities of Clendenin and Elkview and spent weeks volunteering, said he did not share the praise for FEMA that many others did. Namely because of the thousands impacted by the flood, less than 200 received the maximum amount of aid the agency offers– $33,000.

“We can spend billions of dollars overseas, but when it comes to the federal government being there for our own people, we fell short,” he said. “We still have people living in tents in Kanawha County, all across out state, put out of their homes.”

The state aid bill now goes to Gov. Tomblin for a signature.

Members of the Senate will return to session Tuesday to consider gubernatorial confirmations. The House of Delegates has adjourned sine die.