By Natalee Seely
Special to the Times
PARKERSBURG - The president issued a federal disaster declaration for West Virginia Tuesday, allowing for federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts after last month's severe storms.
The declaration came a week after U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin requested the federal disaster declaration on behalf of communities affected by widespread power outages and storm damage.
"West Virginians are some of the most resilient people in the world, but the massive storms late last month took a tremendous toll on our state," Manchin said. "I'm pleased that the president quickly granted this disaster declaration, and I look forward to helping our communities as they work to rebuild our public infrastructure."
The declaration provides assistance for emergency work and repair or replacement of public facilities damaged in the storms from June 29 to July 1. Hazard mitigation grants will be made available as a result of Tuesday's declaration.
All counties are eligible to apply for this financial assistance for actions taken to prevent or reduce long-term risk to life and property from natural hazards.
State and federal emergency management officials continue assessing storm damage throughout the state. Individual assistance will be requested from the federal government once all assessments have been completed, according to a press release from Tomblin's office.
Ed Hupp, Wood County Emergency Services director, said the county and individual cities are still assessing storm damage. Preliminary reports indicate the storms cost Wood County around $400,000, he said.
"We don't have exact figures yet; there are still assessments going on around the state," said Hupp. "This federal aid will go toward governments and nonprofit agencies affected by the storms, for things like damage to public buildings, overtime worked by city and county employees and law enforcement, public service districts, and generators brought in to keep water pumps going."
According to preliminary estimates, the storms cost the City of Parkersburg around $50,000. Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell said the city spent more than $32,000 in overtime, about $10,000 in contractual services, close to $6,000 for equipment including additional chainsaws, gasoline and ice, and about $3,000 in additional landfill fees for debris cleanup and additional sanitation pickup.