Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Gov. Bob McDonnell appeals FEMA's decision to deny tornado aid
Virginia has provided the agency with more information about storm-related damages.
From today's paper
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RICHMOND -- Gov. Bob McDonnell is appealing a federal agency's decision to deny disaster assistance for Pulaski and Washington counties and other Virginia communities that were damaged by April tornadoes.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency denied the state's relief requests earlier this month after determining that damage was not severe enough to qualify for federal assistance. At least 30 tornadoes hit Virginia in three severe weather events in April, killing 10 people and injuring more than 100.
An April 28 twister in Glade Spring killed four and caused widespread damage.
"Local and state governments and volunteers are doing all they can to help, but federal assistance would make a big difference in ensuring that hundreds of Virginians recover from this devastation," McDonnell said Tuesday in a statement. "I urge FEMA to reconsider this decision."
State officials have provided FEMA with more information about storm-related damages, particularly losses incurred by uninsured residents and businesses, said Bob Spieldenner, spokesman for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.
If the state's appeal is denied, tornado-affected communities still could apply for loans through the Small Business Administration. But the appeals process must be exhausted before officials can apply, Spieldenner said.
McDonnell made three separate requests for relief from FEMA's Individual Assistance Program for severe weather damages in Pulaski, Washington, Halifax, Gloucester and Middlesex counties. The relief program could fund low-interest loans and grants, unemployment assistance, disaster housing assistance and crisis counseling for residents in the tornado-affected areas.
"I am extremely heartened by all the work our citizens and volunteers are doing to help each other recover from this disaster," McDonnell said. "But it is going to take time for some of our communities to be restored. We simply need more resources."
The state also has established a tornado relief fund to help storm victims. Donations can be made by checks payable to Treasurer of Virginia with "tornado relief" noted in the memo line. The tax-deductible donations can be sent to Comptroller's Office, P.O. Box 1971, Richmond, VA 23218-1971.