Obama signs snow disaster declaration
On March 2, President Obama signed a disaster declaration which provides federal assistance to West Virginia as a result of the severe snowstorm of December 18-20, 2009.
Governor Joe Manchin requested the disaster declaration on February 10 for the counties of Boone, Calhoun, Clay, Fayette, Greenbrier, Kanawha, McDowell, Mingo, Nicholas, Pendleton, Pocahontas, Raleigh, Ritchie, Roane, and Wyoming.
Obama's declaration makes federal funding available to the state and eligible local governments for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe winter storm.
Pocahontas County Director of Emergency Services Melvin Martin said the declaration could be worth nearly $24,000 for the town of Marlinton.
"Now that we have the formal federal declaration of the disaster, we have to go back and do a lot more paperwork," he said. "Once they get it down to us, we send it back and hopefully the town can be reimbursed for some of their costs."
Martin said Marlinton had submitted snow removal receipts totaling $23,700, but that other municipalities had not submitted any costs.
"I asked for any costs from Hillsboro and Durbin but I never received back anything," he said.
Senator Robert Byrd lobbied White House officials for approval of the disaster declaration.
During Senate hearings on February 24, Byrd told Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano,
"I appreciate the department's efforts through FEMA to help my state as West Virginians dig out from the tremendous amount of snow that fell this year. I support Governor Joe Manchin's request for federal assistance in response to the December snowstorm and I look forward to working with you to ensure that the February storms that packed a one-two punch are handled appropriately. "
FEMA informed Governor Manchin that additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the State and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.