CHARLESTON, W.Va.– West Virginia Adjutant General James Hoyer says he still wants to move with deliberate speed to provide long-term help for flood victims.
Hoyer said he is generally pleased about how the effort has been going over the past month. Gov. Jim Justice made Hoyer the point man in charge of long-term flood relief when earlier efforts languished.
“I think we’re doing a pretty good job right now of taking care of people from the standpoint of we’ve got the program moving in the direction that it needs to go,” he said. “We have folks reaching out to us on a regular basis as well as folks who still have cases.”
There are 448 cases that have been reported to RISE West Virginia. Hoyer said the number of cases should go down even more as the program finds duplicate cases.
“Of those 448, 131 are now in construction management phase, which means we’ve got them assigned to a contractor to start to work the housing piece,” he said.
Communication has also improved, which Hoyer said takes care of those who need answers.
“Every once in a while, we will still get somebody who will call in and say they haven’t heard anything, but at least now when somebody calls and says that, somebody returns their call and gets to them,” he said. “I think we’re doing a pretty good job with that.”
Hoyer said he has seen some improvement in the numbers of cases moving along. There have been, however, setbacks in the process.
“Where I’m not happy with the deliberate speed and where we have a little bit of work and tweaking to do is we have 153 cases that we call ‘unassigned cases,'” Hoyer said.
There are three categories in the RISE West Virginia programs: reconstruction, which is a total rebuild of a house; rehab, which is repairs on house; and replacement of mobile homes.
Then there are “unassigned cases,” which are those that have not been put into any of these categories due to a gap in the number of people needed to go out and do the assessments.
“My objective, that I’ve laid out to the governor, is that by no later than the next 30 days, I need to make sure that we collectively have all 153 of those cases figured out to an assignment,” Hoyer said.
Hoyer said it’s going to be a little longer for the remaining cases waiting to be dealt with.
“I think right now based on where we’re at we’re probably going to be another 60 days before we get all of the cases into construction management,” he said.
Hoyer said after the homes are finished, the National Guard conducts quality assurance checks to ensure everything is properly done, but only eight guardsmen are performing the checks.
“I think we are doing a substantially better job of communicating with families, and that’s the number one priority,” he said. “I’ve got to make sure that we’re doing a better job too of communicating with the legislature, the attorney general, the state auditor and all those folks.”
Story by Jordyn Johnson