UPDATE 12/31/12 @ 2:30 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is continuing the fight for federal assistance to help communities recover from Hurricane Sandy.
Monday, Tomblin appealed FEMA's decision to deny the request for federal assistance.
"I was extremely disappointed with FEMA's decision to deny this much needed federal assistance to the many West Virginians struggling to rebuild after Hurricane Sandy," Gov. Tomblin said. "In the wake of the storm, I surveyed the damage firsthand and met with many folks whose homes and businesses were destroyed. Today, I'm appealing FEMA's decision. I believe if they take a closer look at our proposal, they will see that we have families and businesses still in need of this assistance."
Gov. Tomblin's request included individual assistance for residents in Fayette, Nicholas, Preston, Randolph, Tucker Uphsur, Webster, and Wyoming counties.
Previously, FEMA granted public assistance for Barbour, Boone, Braxton, Clay, Fayette, Kanawha, Lewis, Nicholas, Pendleton, Pocahontas, Preston, Raleigh, Randolph, Taylor, Tucker, Upshur, Webster, and Wyoming counties as a result of Hurricane Sandy.
The October storm dumped more than 2 feet of snow in parts of the state, left seven people dead and knocked out electricity to more than a quarter-million customers, some for two weeks.
Federal public assistance provides ongoing recovery and repair assistance to our state agencies, counties, cities, towns, and public service districts within the designated areas.
So far, individual assistance has been granted for Kanawha, Nicholas, Fayette and Raleigh counties.
The new list includes Boone, Cabell, Clay, Greenbrier, Harrison, Jackson, Lincoln, Mason, McDowell, Mercer, Mingo, Monroe, Pocahontas, Putnam, Randolph, Roane, Tyler, Webster, Wetzel and Wood counties.
"Our families, seniors and individuals in these 20 counties need additional help to fully recover from the June storm," Gov. Tomblin said. "While I'm grateful to the many individuals and organizations who have worked hard to help families and businesses throughout our state, the need stretches beyond their means. An expansion of the July federal disaster declaration to include individual assistance can mean the world of difference for many."
Gov. Tomblin is specifically requesting individual assistance from the federal government including the Individuals and Households Program, Disaster Unemployment Assistance, Disaster Legal services, Disaster Supplemental Food Nutrition Assistance Program and Crisis Counseling, and Small Business Administration disaster loans.
The centers will open on Tuesday, September 25 at the following locations:
South Charleston Community Center
601 Jefferson Rd.
South Charleston, WV 25309
National Guard Armory
3 Armory Way
Summersville, WV 26651
Glen Jean Armory
409 Wood Mountain Rd
Glen Jean, WV 25846
200 Armory Road
Beckley, WV 25801
Hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Specialists from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will be on hand to answer questions and provide recovery information.
Fayette, Kanawha, Nicholas and Raleigh counties were granted Individual Assistance as part of the federal disaster declaration granted in July.
The decision comes after Gov. Tomblin's appeal to FEMA on August 28. The federal agency initially denied his request for individual assistance to help residents recover from the June 29th storm.
"These federal funds will provide much needed help to West Virginians in the hardest hit areas of our state," Gov. Tomblin said. "We continue to evaluate the possibility of adding additional counties to the declaration, because we know how important this assistance is for many families throughout West Virginia."
It was determined at the time of the appeal, 42 percent of the destroyed homes were located in Fayette, Kanawha, Nicholas and Raleigh counties. And of these homes, 60 percent had major damage.
Individuals and businesses in Fayette, Kanawha, Nicholas and Raleigh counties are encouraged to register their request for assistance with FEMA by calling 1-800-621-FEMA or visiting www.FEMA.gov.
But all hope isn't lost, in fact, FEMA and county officials are urging homeowners who experienced any kind of storm damage to come forward and let them know.
"The letter that FEMA's administrator sent to the governor, it basically said that the disaster, the damages were not of sufficient severity or magnitude to warrant a individual assistance declaration," Frank Blake, FEMA said.
That decision isn't sitting well with Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, now he plans on appealing the decision. But in order to do so, county leaders need anyone who experienced any damage to come forward.
"That's who we rely on to take us where the damages are," Blake said. "If we don't know where to go, we can't assess them and it's not a complete picture that we give to the governor."
On Friday, leaders started assessing damage again in Kanawha, Raleigh, Nicholas and Fayette Counties.
"We're hopeful that they'll have a better picture of what's going on, our damage will meet the threshold necessary to get the folks some help," C.W. Sigman, Deputy Director of Emergency Management said.
FEMA officials said some homeowners might not have had the chance to report their damage since power and phone lines were out for several days. And by the time they were back on, they might have forgotten.
"Homeowners should contact their insurance companies to see if their damages are covered by insurance," Blake said. "If we were to get individual assistance, we can't double pay. But we might be able to pay some things that insurance does not cover."
And now everyone will have to wait to see if this FEMA reverses it's decision.
FEMA said they'll be back in those counties, Saturday, and they'll also be stopping by Clay and McDowell Counties.
Again, if you experienced any damage from those storms, you are asked to call your county office of emergency management so they can come out and assess your damage.
Food loss and costs of private generators don't need to be reported because the federal government won't reimburse for those costs.
Tomblin said Thursday night that he plans to appeal the decision by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He also wants West Virginia's congressional delegation to arrange a meeting with FEMA leadership.
Tomblin says he wants to describe to FEMA the destruction he saw from the storm.
"I strongly disagree with FEMA's decision to deny sorely needed federal assistance to the victims of the unprecedented June 2012 derecho," Gov. Tomblin said. "I intend to appeal this decision and ask our Congressional Delegation to arrange a meeting with the FEMA leadership as soon as possible so that I can explain firsthand the devastation that I witnessed in the wake of this storm. While I hope an appeal will reverse today's federal decision, I understand there are many families struggling to recover from the significant financial impact of the storm, and I appreciate the many organizations throughout West Virginia that continue to provide assistance to them."
The June 29 storm and subsequent storms left three people dead and more than 680,000 customers without electricity across the state. Some had to wait nearly two weeks to have their power restored.
Tomblin had sought individual assistance in at least 24 counties, including grants and services for people who incurred uninsured property damage and loss.
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