CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin plans to call lawmakers into session next week to cover West Virginia’s share of recovery costs after deadly floods in June caused about $300 million in damages.
Tomblin told reporters Tuesday that the administration is finalizing its damage totals. But in a worst case scenario, if the federal government will only cover 75 percent of the costs, the state would need to chip in about $75 million, he said.
The June 23 flooding killed 23 people in West Virginia, destroyed more than 2,100 homes, caused major damage to more than 1,300 others and inflicted minor damage on another 700. More than 8,800 households have applied for Federal Emergency Management Agency aid.
Part of the state’s share will likely come from the Rainy Day Fund, which has a $681.9 million balance. Those reserves have been tapped a few times in recent years to plug budget holes, largely due to falling tax money from the state’s depleted coal industry and from low natural gas prices.
FEMA has already approved $33.1 million in housing aid and $6.3 million for other individual needs.
The federal agency has said it would increase its cost share with the state from 75 to 90 percent if West Virginia can pinpoint about $254 million in damage costs or more.
Though the administration found about $300 million in damages, Tomblin said the higher federal cost-share isn’t a guarantee.
Tomblin said he’s also lobbying for West Virginia to be included in a congressional bill to aid Louisiana’s flood recovery.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards is asking President Barack Obama for $2.8 billion in aid after floods damaged more than 84,000 homes in that state, many in the Baton Rouge area. More than 180,000 people there have registered for disaster aid.
“We’re doing our best to try to convince the White House to slide us in there to be able to do that, which would, I think, give us the 90-10 (cost-share), or at least it’d be a direct appropriation to West Virginia,” Tomblin said.