U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) today sent a letter to President Barack Obama in support of Governor Earl Ray Tomblin's request for a declaration of a major disaster for West Virginia as a result of the severe storms that hit the state beginning on June 29, 2012.
"Within four hours, the June 29th storm crossed the entire State from west to east, causing severe damage in all fifty-five counties. The straight-line, hurricane-force winds that traversed West Virginia on June 29th resulted in unprecedented damage to my state's electrical and telecommunications infrastructure. Nearly 680,000 out of 1,000,000 customers were without electricity, and suffered for days in scorching temperatures of nearly 100 degrees.
"As a consequence of the June 29th storm, businesses, health care facilities, 9-1-1 centers, water and sewer systems, and multiple cell towers were rendered inoperative. With additional severe weather ensuing in the days immediately following the initial storm, local emergency supplies and first responders now find themselves stretched to the limit. Community resources are severely depleted and officials are faced with the daunting task of rebuilding local infrastructure.
"The residents of my state were hit with a ferocious storm followed by days, and in some cases weeks, without electricity. With cell phone towers and power lines down, I am proud to say that, yet again, West Virginians pulled together in the face of adversity I urge you to give every appropriate consideration to Governor Earl Ray Tomblin's request, and extend much-needed assistance to the communities in West Virginia that are struggling to re-build."
Following the late June storms, Senator Manchin had the opportunity to join the West Virginia National Guard as they visited the impacted communities. He was able to speak directly with the families who were affected to help meet their needs. He visited Lewisburg, Alderson, Rupert and Rainelle in Greenbrier County, as well as Glen Jean, Kincaid, Page, Montgomery, Gauley Bridge, Ansted and Lookout in Fayette County.
Senator Manchin's letter to President Obama is attached.
If granted, the major disaster declaration would allow the federal government to assist with infrastructure repair. It would also provide federal dollars to address imminent health and safety concerns.
Governor Tomblin is specifically requesting public assistance including debris removal, emergency protective measures, road and bridge repair, water control facility repair, building and equipment repair, and utility assistance for the following counties: Barbour, Boone Braxton, Cabell, Calhoun, Clay, Doddridge, Fayette, Gilmer, Grant, Greenbrier, Hardy, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson, Kanawha, Lewis, Lincoln, Logan, Marshall, Mason, McDowell, Mercer, Mingo, Monroe, Nicholas, Pendleton, Pleasants, Pocahontas, Preston, Putnam, Raleigh, Randolph, Ritchie, Roane, Summers, Tucker, Tyler, Upshur, Wayne, Webster, Wetzel, Wirt, Wood and Wyoming.
Governor Tomblin is also requesting Hazard Mitigation funds to be available to all 55 counties.