CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Kanawha County expects to be reimbursed $180,000 of the $300,000 it cost the county in its response to the Jan. 9 chemical spill on the Elk River and the water emergency that followed.
FEMA announced last week it had approved Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s appeal of public assistance for the parts of nine counties impacted by the spill of MCHM and the Do Not Use water order from West Virginia American Water Company.
Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said most of the county’s response expenses were tied to overtime for county sheriff’s deputies.
“We had specific requests from the state to do certain things. There were issues of security. There were issues of getting the water,” Carper said. “Those who were handing out the water, most of themselves were volunteers, deemed themselves insecure without law enforcement there.”
The county spent $100,000 in overtime. Carper said the county’s $300,000 total doesn’t include another $200,000 spent the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department in its response and thousands of dollars by the Kanawha County Board of Education.
“The list goes on and on,” Carper said.
A kickoff meeting with FEMA on the reimbursement application process is scheduled for Wednesday at 10 a.m. at the Kanawha County Courthouse.
FEMA refused to grant a major disaster declaration in response to the water emergency but it did agree to the public assistance reimbursement as the result of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s appeal. Carper said the governor and Kanawha County showed “dogged persistence” in going after the federal help.
Carper added the county commission would be transferring $75,000 to the sheriff’s department budget next Tuesday as a stopgap measure to help with cash flow until the reimbursement comes.