For Immediate Release: October 15, 2018
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Ofirah Yheskel, Ofirah.Yheskel@governor.virginia.gov | Virginia Department of Emergency Management: Jeff Caldwell, Jeff.caldwell@vdem.virgnia.gov

Governor Northam Announces FEMA Approval of Virginia’s Request for Hurricane Florence Major Disaster Declaration

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam announced today that Virginia’s request for a major disaster declaration to speed aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other federal aid to the Commonwealth for the September 8–21 impacts of Hurricane Florence has been approved by the President. This action triggers the release of federal funds to help communities recover. FEMA funds awarded to Virginia will provide reimbursement for up to 75 percent of local and state costs incurred as the Commonwealth prepared for and responded to the storm.

“Virginia has been working closely with the president and the Federal Emergency Management Agency in order to coordinate our response to Hurricane Florence and to seek disaster aid to offset the cost of preparing for and responding to this historic storm,” said Governor Northam. “The award of these funds will allow the Commonwealth to complete our recovery efforts and will help local and state governments to pay for the costs incurred from storm damage and response operations.”

Federal funding is available to state, tribal, and eligible local governments, and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair and replacement of facilities damaged by Hurricane Florence in Henry, King and Queen, Lancaster, Nelson, Patrick, Pittsylvania, and Russell counties and the independent cities of Newport News, Richmond, and Williamsburg. Other localities may be added at a later date.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures for all areas statewide. Private property owners must apply through their local government for potential hazard mitigation projects.

This funding may include:

  • Payment of not less than 75 percent of the eligible costs for debris removal and emergency protective measures taken to save lives and protect property and public health. Emergency protective measures assistance, including direct federal assistance is available to the Commonwealth, tribal and local governments, as well as certain private non-profit organizations on a cost-sharing basis. (Source: FEMA funded, Commonwealth administered)
  •  Payment of not less than 75 percent of the eligible costs for repairing or replacing damaged public facilities, such as roads, bridges, utilities, buildings, schools, recreational areas, and similar publicly owned property, as well as certain private non-profit organizations engaged in community service activities. (Source: FEMA funded, Commonwealth administered)
  • Payment of not more than 75 percent of the approved costs for hazard mitigation projects undertaken by the Commonwealth, tribal, and local governments to prevent or reduce long-term risk to life and property from natural disasters.  (Source: FEMA funded, Commonwealth administered)

Virginia did not qualify for Individual Assistance for Hurricane Florence. For federal individual disaster assistance (IA) to become available to homeowners and renters, a disaster event must cause widespread, severe damage to a significant number of personal residences, and most damage must have been uninsured.

How Federal Disaster Funds Are Awarded
After initial response efforts, communities must determine the amount of damage to homes, businesses and infrastructure. Localities must submit an initial damage assessment to the Virginia Emergency Operations Center, usually within 72 hours. If the damage appears significant, then a team of state and federal personnel may visit the area to perform additional assessment.

If the damages appear to meet federal criteria, the governor may request a presidential declaration. Only the President of the United States has the authority to approve the request, and an approval is not automatic. Many disasters in Virginia have not received a federal declaration.

A federal declaration must include the locality’s name in order to receive aid. There are two main types of federal assistance for individuals and households. A locality may also be eligible for the Public Assistance program, which reimburses local and state governments and certain private nonprofits for the expenses involved in response and recovery efforts.

Once awarded by FEMA and the President, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management coordinates local government projects and administers the funding on behalf of FEMA. For more information, visit http://www.vaemergency.gov/prepare-recover/.

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