Evaluation of flood damage ongoing

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — It may take a little longer before West Virginia is ready to seek a federal disaster declaration from the White House.

FEMA, the SBA, and state and local emergency officials took a look at damages on the ground in the hardest hit parts of the state from the August 28th flash flood. Kanawha County Emergency Services Manager C.W. Sigman said the damage was about what they expected, but admitted there were a number of homes impacted which they were not aware of until they paid a visit.

“We found a significant number of houses with severe damage. Not as many as we originally thought were a total loss, but there were a significant number of homes that were not on the list that had a lot of damage,” he said.

The damages fall into two separate categories, public infrastructure and private property. According to Sigman the public infrastructure damage often drives a disaster declaration, but in this case the higher level of damage may have been to private property. However, there is still an assessment happening on a major sewer system in eastern Kanawha County which could tip the scale.

“Kanawha Public Service District does have a lot of damage to the sewer system and they’re evaluating that. They’re running robot cameras and getting an engineering firm to take a look to clearly determine how much damage they have,” Sigman explained.

The PSD has been given an extension on the deadline to report their damage information and FEMA and state officials are assisting with the assessment of the sewer damages.

Meanwhile, what is known from the assessment in Kanawha County is that three homes were a total loss. The report also found 22 homes with major damage, 54 with minor damage, and 24 more homes which were affected in some way. Kanawha County Emergency officials said the documentation also revealed an estimated cost for homeowner assistance and other needs from the flood is $759,671.51. The estimated figure is before the PSD evaluation.

Officials said the state will compile data from Kanawha and several other counties and submit an application for disaster assistance to the Biden Administration.