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Stadelman: school replacement costs will make the difference on flood reimbursement rate

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — It could be several months before the state officially meets the damage amount threshold FEMA has set for West Virginia to qualify for 90 percent reimbursement from FEMA in connection with the June 23 flood.

The threshold is $254 million in damages, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s Chief of Staff Chris Stadelman said Wednesday.

“It’s what we need to reach and then it’s very likely, it’s not automatic, but it’s pretty close to automatic, that the 90/10 reimbursement would kick in,” Stadelman said.

The state doesn’t expect to have the final costs on flood damage until county school systems know exactly what it’s going to cost to replace the several schools that were destroyed in the flood. Those costs are currently being estimated at $130 million, which would put the total cost of the flood beyond $300 million, according to Stadelman.

“We can’t actually put that (the school costs) toward our bottom line, toward that $254 million, until we actually get the actual bids and architectural estimates on what that’s going to cost,” he said.

So for now, Gov. Tomblin will move forward assuming the reimbursement rate will be 75/25 from FEMA. That’s the number he’ll use during next week’s special session of the legislature.

‘He’ll be asking (the legislature) for the 25 percent match because that’s all we qualify for at this point,” Stadelman said. “Being conservative we want to make sure we have that available, sticking with the 25.”

Tomblin will ask lawmakers to allocate $75 million of state funding next week. It will come from the Rainy Day Fund and leftover budget money.

Tomblin is scheduled to speak with leading lawmakers about the special session Thursday. Legislative interim committees begin Sunday at the capitol.

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin appeared confident in a tweet Wednesday that the state would eventually receive the 90 pecent reimbursement.

“We’re fighting for the 90/10 declaration from FEMA. There is no state that has been hit harder than WV,” Manchin tweeted.

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