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CURRENT STORIES


Wise seeks flood dollars for region

by Sarah Nagem

STAFF WRITER

CLARKSBURG -- Gov. Bob Wise requested federal aid after last week's floods in Harrison and Doddridge counties, officials said Monday.

If the aid is approved, flood victims can apply to receive individual assistance, said Bland Franklin, a spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Individual assistance includes temporary housing, minimal repair grants, medical and dental aid, assistance for renters, employment for self-employed residents and small, low-interest business administration loans, Franklin said.

The state probably will receive an answer from FEMA within the next couple days, Franklin said.

Requests are funded based on the severity of damage.

"It has to be a significant amount that the county and state can't take care of," Franklin said.

The newest counties that have been declared in a state of emergency -- Harrison, Doddridge, Wood, Ritchie and Jackson -- were not part of the original formal declaration sent to President Bush's office, Franklin said.

The first federal aid was granted June 21, stemming mostly from severe flooding in southern West Virginia, said Al Lisko, mitigation/recovery division director for the West Virginia Office of Emergency Services. Nine counties received individual assistance. Ten received public assistance. Three counties were then added to the list.

Floods hit North Central West Virginia later. Waters rose Thursday evening, ravaging homes and making some roads impassable.

Once aid has been issued to a state, it's fairly easy to add more counties to the list, Lisko said. The original declaration had to be approved by the president, but since damage is already apparent in the state, add-ons must only be approved by FEMA.

The criteria for aid includes the degree of damage and insurance coverage, Lisko said.

"What we primarily are looking at is the number of homes in an area that have suffered major damage," he said.

Public assistance hasn't been requested in the five counties because figures weren't available when the request was made, he said.

Unlike the criteria for individual assistance, public assistance is measured monetarily. The Department of Highways must survey the damage and determine if it is significant enough to qualify for federal aid, Lisko said.

If the assistance is granted, the amount is based on the county's population, multiplied by about $2.70, Lisko said.

If the figures show significant damage, a request for public assistance will be made, he said. That assistance provides funds to state, county and city governments to repair roads, bridges schools and other things.