WASHINGTON D.C. (WRIC) — Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, along with Representative Morgan Griffith, are requesting federal assistance for Buchanan County after two floods hit the county within one year.
On Monday, Sept. 12, Warner, Kaine and Griffith wrote a letter to President Biden formally requesting the approval of the Commonwealth of Virginia’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration and federal assistance for residents affected by the extreme flooding in Buchanan County this July.
Flash flooding and heavy rainfall on July 12, 2022, caused damage to homes, roads, and power lines throughout Buchanan County. For a brief period, 44 people were missing as a result of this flooding, but all were ultimately found safe and uninjured. The nonprofit organization United Way of Southwest Virginia announced in July that 65 homes were destroyed in the storm, with 28 more damaged and 36 categorized as “affected.”
It was determined in July that $4 million was needed for make these homes safe and livable, and more than $187,000 was raised shortly after the storm.
“Our constituents in Buchanan County are still grappling with the aftermath of this devastating storm event,” the letter reads.
This flooding was not the only weather disaster in Buchanan within the past year. In 2021, the community of Hurley, which is located in Buchanan County, experienced heavy rainfall and mudslides as a side effect of Hurricane Ida. This flooding resulted in one death and destroyed several homes.
“Many residents in Buchanan County remain displaced from last year’s extreme rainfall event and are already facing another uprooting of their lives,” the letter states. “The impact of these two natural disasters within a calendar year has severely stressed the resources and capabilities of the Commonwealth of Virginia and Buchanan County.”
The lawmakers are requesting Individual and Public Assistance for Buchanan County, Public Assistance for Tazewell County, and Hazard Mitigation for the Commonwealth of Virginia. If approved, this assistance would provide federal resources and support that would allow Virginia to better respond to the impacts that are still being felt in Buchanan County from the July flooding, according to a statement from Warner, Kaine and Griffith.
This letter also comes after two previous unsuccessful attempts to receive disaster relief funding for Buchanan County from the federal government. On Sept. 30, 2021, former Virginia Governor Ralph Northam requested a Major Disaster Declaration for Virginia and Buchanan County. In October 2021, the President approved Virginia’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration, but denied Governor Northam’s request for individual assistance for residents of Buchanan County.
In December 2021, Warner, Kaine and Griffith sent a letter to the President asking his administration to approve an appeal that would provide federal assistance to residents of Hurley. This appeal was denied in January of this year.
Warner visited Buchanan County on Aug. 22 and Kaine and Griffith visited Buchanan County on Aug. 26 to see the lingering effects of the flooding and hear from impacted residents.