Southwest Virginia lawmakers weigh in on Hurley recovery efforts & hopes for 2022

Virginia News

HURLEY, Va. (WJHL) — The small rural community of Hurley, Virginia continues to recover four months after floodwaters destroyed more than 20 homes and killed one person.

To this day, recovery efforts continue, but residents and local lawmakers told News Channel 11 the progress isn’t nearly as fast as it could be.

“Right now, we just have to wait and see what FEMA is going to do at the federal level,” said U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith, a Republican who represents Virginia’s 9th District.

The Guesses Fork community of Hurley was especially hard-hit, and even months later, the road looks as if the floods hit yesterday. While aid from FEMA was something these residents were hoping for, it’s not happening.

In early November, FEMA denied the request for individual assistance. Griffith said he believes that decision was a bad call.

“It is something that’s just not right,” he said. “They should be giving the individual assistance because this area cries out for it.”

Griffith said he and his colleagues believe that if the flooding had happened in a more populated or well-known area, the aid wouldn’t have been denied. They still work, however, to fix what they can.

“I’ve talked with other congressmen about the fact that they believe the FEMA formulas actually discriminate against economically disadvantaged rural areas, so we’re going to try and see if we can do some work there behind the scenes to change their formulas,” Griffith said.

Meanwhile, Delegate Will Morefield, who represents Virginia’s 3rd District, has filed legislation in an effort to help the flood victims.

The legislation — coined as Virginia House Bill 5 — establishes a flood relief fund that would be paid for by a small percentage of auction proceeds from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

In response to the current state and recovery of Hurley, Morefield sent News Channel 11 the following statement:

“The cleanup still continues with support from local and regional organizations. Our efforts have included working directly with flood victims, local officials and charitable organizations to help lead them in the right direction. It is incredible the amount of private financial support the victims have received, but unfortunately, it is just not enough to make the community whole again. We are hopeful that house Bills 5 will be adopted into law and provide the flood victims in Hurley and future flood victims around the Commonwealth the assistance they need.”

Delegate Will Morefield, (R) 3rd District

While the year comes to an end, Hurley will remain a priority into 2022. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) also continues to push for a reversal of FEMA’s decision to deny individual assistance to these victims.

He said the community endured $67 million in damages, and they need any relief they can get.

News Channel 11 reached out to Sen. Travis Hackworth who has yet to comment on the matter; however, Griffith said he has been in constant communication with his political colleagues and assures they’re all on the same page in restoring Hurley and helping flood victims.

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