HURLEY, Va. (WJHL) – Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine visited Hurley for the first time Tuesday since flooding devastated the Guesses Fork community.
Kaine has been very involved in working to assist these flood victims, but he said he feels a boots-on-the-ground effort will help him act as a better advocate among his fellow lawmakers.
In late August 2021, floods tore through Hurley and Buchanan County, leaving one person dead and numerous homes damaged or destroyed. Months later, the people of Hurley are still struggling to recover, especially those who lived in the area of Guesses Fork Road.
Some steps in the right direction have occurred, but Kaine and the natives of Hurley say the biggest need they have at the moment is federal funding. FEMA denied individual assistance to Hurley residents after the flooding, then months later upheld that decision following an appeal.
“Right now, there’s sort of competing efforts to get both federal assistance and state assistance, but sometimes the federal assistance you subtract from it if you’ve got other assistance, and so that leaves families in a situation saying ‘well do I accept this or do I accept this?'” Kaine said. “We need to provide clear answers soon.”
However, Kaine said he is still determined to bring whatever aid is possible for Hurley, and hope could be on the horizon in the form of legislation by Del. Will Morefield.
“Morefield has a bill in that would be very generous in terms of providing assistance for the families,” Kaine said. “I think significant funding of that is probably coming out of the American Rescue Plan dollars that the federal government helped the state get. If that bill passes, that’s more generous than the normal FEMA benefit, so that would be great. Families could get that first, and then we could see are there additional needs that weren’t met where FEMA benefits could come in.”
Kaine spent Tuesday afternoon visiting with families affected by the floods. He told News Channel 11 that while the evidence of the damage has receded somewhat, witnessing the impact of the flooding firsthand was something he needed to do.
“It was flooded every inch. Everything has been redone,” recalled Connie Dotson, a resident of Guesses Fork Road. “The walls have been cut out, and the floors have been redone. Everything is a complete new remodeling job on the inside.”
Dotson said meeting with Kaine was a welcoming experience and gave the community “a little hope.”