Disaster declaration approved

Published 9:33 am Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Charlotte County was among several counties in the region granted a federal disaster declaration following Tropical Storm Michael, a declaration that, along with the pending — Program, could bring The Town of Drakes Branch one step closer to rehabilitating the damage from flooding on Main Street.

The Office of the Governor and the Commonwealth Regional Council (CRC) made the announcement of the declaration Dec. 18 and 19 respectively.

According to a release from the Governor’s Office, Gov. Ralph Northam sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Dec. 5 “requesting the declaration after the Commonwealth was impacted with damaging winds, flooding, tornadoes, and landslides from Michael between Oct. 9 and Oct. 16. The president approved the request on Dec.18.”

One of the federal assistance programs counties in the region would be qualified for include the Public Assistance Program.

The program according to the Dec. 18 release, provides federal assistance to government organizations and certain private nonprofit (PNP) organizations.

The counties that are set to receive the Public Assistance Program include Prince Edward, Cumberland, Lunenburg, Amelia, Appomattox, Brunswick, Campbell, Charlotte, Chesterfield, Dinwiddie, Essex, Floyd, Fluvanna, Franklin, Halifax, King and Queen, Montgomery, New Kent, Northumberland, Nottoway, Pittsylvania, Powhatan, Rappahannock, Richmond, and Roanoke, as well as Danville and Galax cities.

“Tropical Storm Michael severely impacted dozens of localities, causing damage from rains, flooding, and high winds and spawning seven tornadoes that killed seven Virginians, including one first responder,” Northam said in the release. “It is clear the serious nature of these effects require additional federal assistance and I thank the president for approving my request so Virginia communities, families, and businesses can get the resources they need to help with ongoing recovery efforts from this storm.”

Two of the seven who died in the storm were from Charlotte County.

Northam, according to the release, also requested that the president approve the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program “to provide assistance for actions taken to prevent or reduce long term risk to life and property for natural hazards,” a program of which all areas of Virginia are eligible. CRC Deputy Director Todd Fortune addressed the assistance during the Dec. 19 council meeting.

He said the Public Assistance Program “is available just to localities that are governed under the declaration, and that’s money, among other things, to help with replacement, relocation, repair of facilities that were damaged as a result of the event.”

Fortune said for the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, counties under the federal disaster declaration were typically given first priority, though the program is available to all localities statewide. He said the program requires a 25-percent match of funds, though he said the state has been known to cover a portion of that match funding in the past.

The Town of Drakes Branch, with the CRC, are currently finalizing the flood study and application to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, started earlier this year to address serious flooding at Drakes Branch’s fire department and town hall, which are located in the same building.

Part of the building is condemned, Fortune said. The rest is still being occupied.

“Most importantly, this would hopefully help Drakes Branch,” CRC Executive Director Melody Foster said about the federal assistance grant programs following Tropical Storm Michael. “It would give them more funds to access that they did not have before.”

Concerning the flood study, Fortune said the hope is for the council to have the report finalized in the next couple of weeks, and present it to the Drakes Branch Town Council.

To learn more about the Public Assistance Program and the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, visit https:// www.fema.gov/public-assistance-local-state-tribal-and-non-profit or https://www.fema. gov/hazard-mitigation-grant-program.