CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Adjutant Gen. James Hoyer acknowledged Gov. Jim Justice sat him down for a hard talk about the pace of West Virginia flood relief.
He said the governor told him, “Hey general, move this thing faster. Work to get through the bureaucracy.”
Hoyer spoke this morning on MetroNews’ “Talkline.” Hoyer described both complications with long-term flood relief and attempts to improve.
— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) May 15, 2019
Frustration has continued over the pace of housing relief from the devastating June 23, 2016 flood.
Fifty houses have been completed out of 479 cases, according to the most recent RISE update.
HUD still labels West Virginia a “slow spender,” a designation that reflects whether the state is on pace to close out the grant. The $149 million available for RISE West Virginia comes through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Governor Justice also described the meeting with Hoyer during an interview with WCHS-TV.
“We had a major ‘come to Jesus’ meeting yesterday, because I said I’m gonna tell you you can put it in the bank right this minute and everything,” Justice said.
“It is flat out ridiculous that these people are not. We’re not moving this thing faster.”
Hoyer noted that 23 houses have newly moved into the construction phase.
“What the governor’s frustration is is, ‘Hey, move this thing faster where and how you can. But at the same time don’t do anything where you have to pay money back to the federal government because we’re doing it wrong,'” he said.
Hoyer said the governor wants evidence of progress.
“Two primary things the governor has asked me to focusing on, is getting all those 476 families in case management in the HUD system in a path toward completion,” Hoyer said.
“I’ve got to get this thing in a focus that going forward the governor is satisfied that we the state of West Virginia are moving in the right direction.”
Speaking today on WCHS-AM radio, Senate President Mitch Carmichael was critical of the progress on long-term flood relief.
“I can’t even imagine the mismanagement at the executive level of this program,” said Carmichael, R-Jackson. “It’s pathetic.”
U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart announced this month that a federal investigation is under way for how West Virginia has been using flood relief funding.
Stuart said the Offices of Inspector General of both FEMA and HUD, which have provided millions of dollars in disaster grants, both are participating in the investigation.
Referencing federal oversight, Carmichael said West Virginia’s recovery effort has gone awry.
“This is just one more issue. The flood recovery efforts. We’re three years out. The federal government has looked at West Virginia and said, are you kidding me, you guys have messed this up in the worst possible manner.”