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Virginia seeks federal assistance for June 29 derecho

Gov. Bob McDonnell last week requested federal disaster assistance to reimburse local and state governments for their costs associated with responding to the widespread severe derecho wind storm that affected Virginia June 29-30 and the heavy thunderstorms with high winds and hail that occurred the evening of June 30 and the afternoon of July 1.

“Tragically, we lost 15 lives as a result of the recent storms that impacted the Commonwealth. Many more Virginians suffered property damage and lost power for extended periods of time during a record heat wave. The historic derecho storm and the follow-up thunderstorms required extraordinary response and recovery efforts at the local and state levels,” McDonnell said. 

McDonnell requested federal funds through FEMA’s Public Assistance program to aid the counties of Albemarle, Alleghany, Amelia, Amherst, Appomattox, Arlington, Augusta, Bath, Bedford, Bland, Botetourt, Buckingham, Campbell, Carroll, Charlotte, Clarke, Craig, Culpeper, Cumberland, Dinwiddie, Fauquier, Floyd, Fluvanna, Frederick, Giles, Greene, Halifax, Highland, Louisa, Lunenburg, Madison, Nelson, New Kent, Nottoway, Orange, Page, Pittsylvania, Powhatan, Prince Edward, Pulaski, Rappahannock, Roanoke, Rockbridge, Rockingham, Shenandoah, Tazewell and Warren and the cities of Bedford, Charlottesville, Covington, Danville, Fairfax, Fredericksburg, Lexington, Lynchburg, Manassas Park, Martinsville, Radford, Roanoke, Salem, Staunton and Winchester.

Some costs that are eligible for reimbursement through the public assistance program include activation of emergency crews to respond to the storm; opening of cooling centers and shelters; debris removal; repairs to publicly-owned property such as roads, water and sewer systems; and damage to electrical systems. The request is not for the federal individual assistance program, which provides aid to individuals and families with uninsured losses, because most private property that was damaged was insured. The governor also requested hazard mitigation assistance for all Virginia localities. The hazard mitigation assistance program helps local and state governments implement measures designed to reduce the impact of future disasters.

If a federal disaster declaration is received to help local governments through the public assistance program, additional governments not included in this request can be added at a later time. Emergency management officials continue to compile information about storm damage that occurred throughout Virginia.

Among the critical public facilities affected by the storms in Virginia were local communication systems, waterworks, transportation systems, medical and health facilities and electric utilities. A total of 47 jurisdictions declared local emergencies. Many public facilities had to operate on emergency power generators for extended periods of time. Also, eight public and private waterworks affecting more than 8,000 consumers were disrupted, and 15 waterworks implemented boil water notices. As many as 217 roads maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation were closed due to downed trees, power lines and debris. During storm response and recovery, more than 140 cooling centers and 15 shelters were established throughout the state.

The June 29-July 1 storms occurred during an extended heat wave, contributing to 15 deaths and causing the third-highest level of power outages ever in Virginia, affecting an estimated 1.3 million customers.

Augusta Health Augusta Free Press Kris McMackin CPA
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Augusta Free Press