Greenbrier County families worried about flood grant money

LEWISBURG, W.Va. (AP) — Greenbrier County commissioners are looking at options to help families who were hoping for federal money to rebuild homes lost in the 2016 flood.

The Register-Herald reports state officials initially encouraged the homeowners to apply for some of West Virginia's $69 million pool of flood hazard mitigation funds.

But county emergency services official Paula Brown says the state has now placed high-profile public infrastructure projects first in line for funding. That means all 55 counties can apply for grants, and it makes the homeowners unlikely to receive funding.

Brown told county commissioners last week that her office has received approval to acquire only six flood-damaged properties out of 41 requested. The office also received approval to help elevate three homes.

"We received 13 percent of what we asked for from the state," Brown said. She added that there are more than 30 homes awaiting demolition, posing a public health hazard as they continue to deteriorate.

Brown said it is essential that the damaged structures be removed, but the owners don't have the money. Many of those families are still paying off debts on their uninhabitable flood-damaged houses. At the same time, they are trying to pay mortgages or rent on new homes.

Brown told commissioners the state's priorities list for flood hazard mitigation grants can still be modified, and she urged the commission to intervene with state officials.

"Anything you can do at the state level will be appreciated," she said.
Commissioners indicated a willingness to send a letter to the governor and explore additional options.