CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gen. James Hoyer says progress has improved already with long-term flood recovery.
“Yesterday because of getting through a communications breakdown, we were able to release six more homes for mobile home replacement,” Hoyer said.
“Today we’re going to get through a process in that environmental piece that I think is going to get us through another five. Next week, you’re going to see us continue to surge. As opposed to responding to you with words, let people look at our actions over the next 30 days.”
Hoyer spoke at a news conference that was prompted by complaints about poor communication and slow progress on long-term flood recovery.
Gov. Jim Justice earlier this week placed Hoyer as the point man to improve.
Although Justice has talked about a reorganization of the state Department of Commerce over issues from its oversight of long-term flood recovery, there were no changes described during a news conference this morning at the Capitol.
“There has not been terminations yet,” Justice said today. “There will be terminations.”
Hoyer, adjutant general of the West Virginia National Guard, promised to provide regular updates about momentum on long-term flood recovery.
“We’ll keep you engaged and keep you informed,” Hoyer said.
Hoyer described some forward movement on long-term relief from the devastating 2016 floods, including with some demolition projects.
“Part of that is, if you get dilapidated structures down and you get communities cleared up, it helps raise property values and it helps communities rebuild,” he said.
He described getting the appropriate staffing in place. He also described streamlining separate case management systems that had been established by RISE West Virginia and West Virginia Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster.
“When you have that, you’re going to have some level of confusion,” Hoyer said. “What I’ve directed is one case management system that will be managed by the VOAD. They’re in the process of consolidating today.”
The goal by the end of next week is to provide solid numbers by the end of next week for the number of affected West Virginians who still need long-term housing help.
A constituent support system will also be established, Hoyer said. “We will take those names and immediately have a case manager reach out,” he said.
A few people have already been given access to case management, Hoyer said. He described a Fayette County resident who has been placed in a hotel while case managers work through his process.
Another family getting a new mobile home hadn’t been given the keys and still needed to have the power turned on. Hoyer said that was being resolved, too. “We’re working through all those issues that we had glitches in the staffing process,” Hoyer said.
Hoyer has been working with the state Department of Commerce.
West Virginia RISE in the Department of Commerce in the Justice administration is the state agency designated to manage Community Development Block Grants for disaster relief authorized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Of the $149,875,000 West Virginia has available, the state still has $148,736,333 left on hand.
West Virginia made its request to start using the money this past Jan. 29. HUD gave its OK on Feb. 20.
Today, Justice described communications problems that led to broad belief that the money and progress would be available as early as last August.
“People were telling people hammers were going to fly the next day and they never flew,” Justice said.
This is all in response to a flood that hit West Virginia on June 23, 2016. Some counties were hit with 10 inches of rain over 24 hours.
Twenty-three people were killed. There were 1,200 homes destroyed, and thousands were without power. The flood damaged businesses, roads and water and sewer systems.