HURLEY, Va. (WJHL) — The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on Tuesday denied an appeal to its original decision not to provide Hurley flood victims with individual assistance.
Former Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam requested the funding after the August 2021 floods killed one person and demolished nearly 50 homes in the Guesses Fork community.
In its original assistance denial letter, FEMA claimed the flooding’s impact on the community “was not of such severity and magnitude to warrant the designation of Individual Assistance…”
U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D- Va.) said FEMA’s decision came as a disappointment as the Hurley community continues to rebuild from the deadly floods that ravaged dozens of homes.
“I’m extremely disappointed in FEMA’s decision to deny Individual Assistance to the Hurley community. I will continue to explore ways my office can help the citizens of Buchanan County recover from this natural disaster and mitigate the impact of future significant weather events.”Sen. Mark Warner via Twitter
Congressman Morgan Griffith (R- Va.) also reacted to the appeal denial on Tuesday with the following statement.
“FEMA’s decision indicates that the agency is out of touch with the suffering experienced by the people of Hurley. The community continues to suffer from the impact of last August’s devastating flooding. Homes were washed away, and property destroyed. It will take considerable time and effort to recover, but FEMA’s decision sets back that process. I will continue to look for ways in which the federal government can assist this beleaguered community.”Rep. Morgan Griffith
Buchanan County Supervisor Trey Adkins told News Channel 11 Tuesday that in total, the community lost 46 homes, with 58 others severely damaged during the floods.
“It just amazes me that something on a scale that this was and the damage it did, to wipe out an entire community…we’re just not really getting a legit answer as to why we got denied,” Adkins said.
Becky Smith was one of many who lost her home in the devastation.
“We lost everything that we owned,” Smith said. “We lost a home and two vehicles that we’ve worked so hard to have what we’ve got.”
Hurley did receive FEMA public assistance, but that only helps repair roads, bridges and water. It does not help community members rebuild their homes.
News Channel 11 reached out to FEMA on Tuesday and received the following response on Wednesday.
On January 14, 2022, FEMA responded to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management that it would reaffirm its denial of Individual Assistance under the major disaster declaration FEMA-4628-DR, which was declared on October 26, 2021, as a result of flooding, landslides, and mudslides on Aug. 30-31, 2021. Virginia specifically appealed the denial of Individual Assistance for Buchanan County.
After thorough review of all the information contained in Virginia’s initial request and appeal, FEMA reaffirmed its original findings that the impact to the individuals and households from this event was not of the severity and magnitude to warrant the designation of the Individual Assistance program under FEMA-4628-DR.
FEMA Public Assistance (PA) is available for Buchanan County. Public Assistance helps state, local, tribal, and territorial governments and certain types of private nonprofit organizations cover their costs for debris removal, life-saving emergency protective measures, and restoring public infrastructure after disasters.
FEMA is also providing Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funding to the Commonwealth of Virginia to mitigate future disaster damages. These projects may include construction of new facilities, modification of existing, undamaged facilities, relocation of facilities out of floodplains, demolition of structures, or other types of projects to mitigate future disaster damages.Charlie Elison, FEMA spokesperson