CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia lawmakers on Sunday began what could be quick work to address the state’s share of recovery costs after deadly floods in June.
Following a few introductory comments from the House speaker Sunday, the House of Delegates voted 92-1 for a bill to put $85 million in state money toward its flood recovery costs. The bulk of the money, $55 million, would come from the state’s Rainy Day Fund.
The Senate will likely follow suit and pass the measure Monday. That would send the bill to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, who called the session that began Sunday and offers a brief reprieve during a heated election season.
The June 23 floods killed 23 people and battered homes, businesses, schools and infrastructure. The state endured $339.8 million in flood costs, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will cover either 75 or 90 percent of those damages.
“The devastation, if you have not seen it, is hard to describe,” said House Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha. “It is really unbelievable.”
The flood recovery costs include $88.8 million in FEMA aid to governments; $33.4 million in FEMA money for housing assistance for individuals and $6.5 million for other individual needs; $130 million for damage to schools; $1.6 million in direct federal aid; $32 million for stream cleanup; $37.5 million to lessen potential for future damages; and $10 million in other costs that the federal government can’t reimburse.
Separately, the governor has asked President Barack Obama for an additional $310 million in a congressional bill to fuel West Virginia’s long-term economic recovery and community rebuilding. He’s hoping to tack it onto any congressional action to set aside money to help Louisiana after that state’s deadly floods.