CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management have announced plans to work side by side.
The two agencies announced Monday that employees will start working alongside each other as a “FEMA Integration Team.”
The integration team was officially adopted via a memorandum of agreement signed Monday by state Emergency Management Director Mike Todorovich and MaryAnn Tierney, FEMA Region III administrator.
The two say the agreement will increase FEMA’s ability to provide on-site technical assistance and rapid delivery of FEMA’s programs within the state while also enhancing FEMA’s direct coordination with state partners.
The integration team being established in West Virginia is the 25th out of a planned minimum of 34.
“FEMA has had a consistent presence in West Virginia supporting ongoing recovery efforts,” Tierney stated.
“By building a larger, more comprehensive team working directly with West Virginia on disaster assistance programs, hazard mitigation and emergency response planning, we can continue to build a true culture of preparedness, ready the nation for catastrophic events and reduce the complexity of FEMA across the state.”
FEMA works closely with the state agency on long-term planning, operational coordination and program implementation and closeout through staff located in both the regional office in Philadelphia and staff in Charleston.
The integration team is meant to enhance that.
“Additional collaboration with FEMA will help strengthen West Virginia’s ability to prepare and build resiliency, as well as continue to provide support to the communities still recovering from past flooding events,” Todorovich stated.
Adjutant General James Hoyer of the West Virginia National Guard described the integration team earlier this month during a meeting of the Joint Legislative Committee on Flooding.
The team might wind up at a building the National Guard is working to acquire outside its installation off Coonskin Drive, Charleston.
The estimated cost to buy the property and build it out for what is needed is $850,000. The funding comes from the sale of armories that have been closed as the Guard consolidated into new or existing facilities, officials said.
“Part of what we’ve done, is we the West Virginia National Guard, had to fix a security problem that required us to acquire some additional space outside of our facility. We’re doubling down to try to save the state money and build some cohesiveness,” Hoyer told legislators.
Hoyer then referred to Todorovich’s staff working side by side with representatives of FEMA.
“And I’m going to put some capabilities for the Guard in this new facility,” Hoyer said.
“Mike’s staff that will be working with this FEMA FIT team will be located in the same place. Instead of having to do telephone calls, they’ll be face to face coordination going on, on a regular basis with these folks.”