CHARLESTON, W.Va. — House Speaker Tim Armstead says he feels better about long-term flood relief now that Adjutant General James Hoyer has been put in charge of the effort.
“He’s very effective in getting things done,” Armstead said of Hoyer, citing many years of response to West Virginia disasters.
Armstead later added, “You have the confidence that he got his direction from the governor and is immediately thinking ‘These are the steps that I need to do.”
Gov. Jim Justice announced Hoyer’s expanded responsibility during a Monday news conference. Justice promised that a restructuring of duties will result in immediate progress on long-term relief.
During a separate news conference on Tuesday afternoon, Justice again expressed confidence in Hoyer.
Hoyer addressed a crowd of reporters, providing an update. He said a database of flood relief cases is being updated. He also said a couple of key issues in environmental processes are being addressed. He also said some staff process shortcomings have been identified and are in the process of being fixed.
“Every time I talk to the governor, I get the same message up front. And that is, ‘Make sure we are taking care of the flood victims that still need support.'”
Housing and Urban Development, the source of $149 million in federal disaster funds, has graded West Virginia as a slow spender.
And people in communities affected by the devastating 2016 floods have expressed frustration about RISE West Virginia, the state agency meant to administer the long-term funds.
Armstead, R-Kanawha, represents constituents who were flooded.
“People just want some answers,” Armstead said today. “It’s just getting to the bottom of where each of these cases sit at this point.”
Justice promised progress in a month.
Armstead said that’s achievable, although it’s unlikely all West Virginians who need housing will be in rebuilt homes by then.
“I think there are a lot of things that can be done in a month to get the people the help they need,” he said. “If we show up a month from now and we’re pretty much where we are and people still don’t have answers then we have a big problem.”
Armstead and Senate President Mitch Carmichael have called for a legislative investigation into what’s happened with long-term flood recovery in West Virginia.
Even if progress picks up, Armstead said important questions still need to be answered.
“I think we need to know what happened and hold people accountable. The priority is getting the program back on course and getting people the help they need. I don’t want to do anything to hold people up any longer,” Armstead said.
“We need to make sure we’ve answered those questions and ensure we don’t have a situation like we’ve had happen again.”
— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) June 6, 2018