FEMA issues disaster declaration for Buchanan, Tazewell: Fed money not coming anytime soon
FEMA has approved a Major Disaster Declaration for Buchanan County and Tazewell County for damage associated with July flooding, but the state is still awaiting word on its request for Individual Assistance Grants that could help residents impacted by the flooding begin their recovery.
“I would like to thank FEMA for approving Virginia’s request for federal assistance,” Gov. Glenn Youngkin said. “While we await the decision on our request for Individual Assistance to support the residents that were impacted, we are grateful to have this assistance to help us restore infrastructure and services in the impacted areas. As governor, I will continue to do everything we can to support these communities.”
According to FEMA, there have only been three federal Individual Assistance Declarations made in the past 20 years – two associated with hurricanes, the third with a 2011 earthquake – so it almost takes an act of God to get one of these approved.
And even with the grants that can be brought down from the Major Disaster Declaration, it’s a process, as you would expect from anything involving the federal government.
The FEMA Public Assistance program, which matches up to 75 percent of eligible costs related to infrastructure damage and emergency and debris-removal expenditures, can take years for full reimbursement for disaster-related expenditures.
The Virginia Department of Emergency Management is the administrative agency for this grant program.
The other grant pool funded under the Major Disaster Declaration is from the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which provides funding for projects to reduce future flooding, and can take 5-7 years to implement from start to finish.
The application phase of this program alone is 12 months, and then FEMA may take 6-18 months to award the project based on environmental and historic review compliance or technical feasibility review.
Federal assistance is approved at 75 percent of the total eligible project costs. Local governments and state agencies will apply through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management as the administrating agency.
VDEM will hold applicant briefings in the coming weeks to help inform potential grant applicants of the process for applying for and receiving federal grants.
Applicants will have 30 days to register and submit a Request for Public Assistance in the FEMA Grants Portal.