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U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Visits Charleston

By: Jennifer Rizzi, WSAZ News Staff Email
By: Jennifer Rizzi, WSAZ News Staff Email

UPDATE: 11/3/12 @ 9 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- As cleanup crews continue to deal with the aftermath of superstorm Sandy, government officials are holding out hope for more federal aid.

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano visited Charleston to assess storm damage and determine how FEMA may be of further help.

"I know people are anxious to get back to their homes and get back to life the way it was before Hurricane Sandy," Janet Napolitano said. "Our commitment is to bring every resource to bear to accomplish that mission."

National Guard leaders recapped the storm's wrath for Napolitano with a slideshow presentation of the hardest-hit areas. Officials from several different counties also spoke with her about the difficulties they're facing.

Napolitano says emergency resources were quick to deploy, thanks in part to unfinished business from the summer.

"The derecho was bad enough, but to have this on the heels of it is a pretty big blow," Napalitano said. "The only silver lining is that the FEMA office was still open from the derecho, so we could just roll right into another storm."

Officials say much progress has been made so far, but there's still a long road ahead to recovery.

"The state has spent $5 million to $6 million already," U.S. Senator Joe Manchin said. "It's probably going to be another $5 to $10 million more to get all of our roads opened up and bridges, and all of our infrastructure."

Officials hope the meeting will lead to FEMA help for state infrastructure and private homeowners.

Napolitano says FEMA has already sent about a million meals and a million liters of water to West Virginia. She says FEMA personnel are working with the National Guard to visit individual homes.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for updates.



ORIGINAL STORY
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is scheduled to join Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin Saturday in Charleston for a storm assessment briefing about damage from Superstorm Sandy, according to a news release from Tomblin’s office.

The news conference will begin at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the FEMA staging area of the West Virginia Army National Guard in Kanawha County.

“I look forward to Secretary Napolitano's visit tomorrow,” Tomblin said in the release. “While we continue to make progress each day, I've seen the damage and destruction firsthand and know we still have a lot of work to do. I'm extremely grateful for all of the support the Secretary has provided so far, and I'm very thankful she has come to see how the federal government can continue helping folks around the state. I know we have a lot of families still in need, and I assure you I am doing everything within my power to get their lights on and their roads cleared as soon as possible.

“We continue to devote all state resources to those in need and to begin rebuilding our communities. We are making progress. All interstates and major routes are now open, and crews are working on clearing secondary roads. The utility companies continue to work around the clock to restore power. As of this evening, we are down to 95,000 customers without electricity. Those without power are encouraged to visit a shelter. Emergency management officials and the West Virginia National Guard are working closely with local first responders to ensure the safety of all West Virginians.”

Following the briefing, Napolitano will participate in a video teleconference with some of the affected counties.


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