County denied FEMA assistance

Published 9:44 am Wednesday, December 5, 2018

A press release from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) said Charlotte County was one of six localities denied FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) public assistance following Hurricane Florence.

According to the release, 38 localities applied for public assistance funding to aid with damages and expenditures due to Florence which occurred in September.

The release cited unmet eligibility requirements as the reason for denial and in Charlotte County

“State Police and VDOT (Virginia Department of Transportation) submitted initial damage assessments. After inspecting damages reported by VDOT to roads and bridges, the costs came in lower than initially estimated,” said the release. “This dropped the jurisdiction below its per capita.”

Other denied counties included Powhatan, Surry, York, Accomack and the City of Portsmouth.

“While it is disappointing that these six localities are ineligible for this federal aid, VDEM and other state agency partners will continue working closely with these localities to support the recovery process from this storm,” said VDEM State Coordinator Jeff Stern in the release. “We will work with the localities to determine if any additional costs have been overlooked that may make us eligible to appeal the decision to FEMA.”

The release said damages must exceed $1.50 per Virginia citizens and also $3.78 per county citizen if the county is going to be eligible for reimbursement.

Currently, the state is preparing to submit a request to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the form of a federal disaster declaration, which would include Charlotte County, for damages sustained during Hurricane Michael, said Commonwealth Regional Council Deputy Director Todd Fortune previously.

He said Charlotte County met the threshold to be included, however, it would be about a month on the timeline before an answer would be received to move the process forward.

“The Regional staff from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management gave us an update recently,” said Fortune previously. “They advised that the Presidential Disaster Declaration request for Tropical Storm Michael is expected to go to the president in December.”

He said the last date proposed was Dec. 11.

“They further advised that Charlotte County exceeded its threshold for damages to qualify for a disaster declaration,” said Fortune previously.

According to information from FEMA, all emergency and major disaster declaration must be made at the sole discretion of the United States President.

Emergency declarations and major disaster declarations will both provide authorization to the president in order to provide assistance supplementally, said FEMA.

“The president can declare a major disaster for any natural event, including any hurricane, tornado, storm, high water, wind-driven water, tidal wave, tsunami, earthquake, volcanic eruption, landslide, mudslide, snowstorm or drought, regardless of cause, fire, flood, or explosion that the president determines has caused damage of such severity that it is beyond the combined capabilities of state and local governments to respond,” FEMA said.

The request also must be submitted by the Governor before it can be considered.

While FEMA said not all assistance programs are activated, depending on the request, assistance could include individual assistance, public assistance and hazard mitigation assistance.