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Tomblin appeals FEMA decision on Sandy assistance

By From staff and wire reports

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin on Monday appealed the Federal Emergency Management Agency's decision to deny federal assistance to areas of the state affected by Superstorm Sandy.

Federal officials denied Tomblin's request seeking aid earlier this month.

The October storm dumped more than 2 feet of snow in parts of the state, killed seven and knocked out electricity to more than a quarter-million customers, some for two weeks.

Tomblin wanted FEMA to grant individual assistance to residents in Fayette, Nicholas, Preston, Randolph, Tucker, Upshur, Webster and Wyoming counties, which suffered the most severe damage.

FEMA denied that request Dec. 13.

Based on preliminary assessments done by the state, damage to homes in the six counties "is not of the severity and magnitude as to warrant the implementation of the Individual Assistance program," Elizabeth A. Zimmerman, deputy associate administrator of FEMA's Office of Response and Recovery, said in a letter to Tomblin.

Tomblin filed a formal appeal of that decision Monday.

"I was extremely disappointed with FEMA's decision to deny this much needed federal assistance to the many West Virginians struggling to rebuild after Hurricane Sandy," Tomblin said in a statement.

He said in the days following the storm, he surveyed the damage firsthand and met many of those who lost homes and businesses. He encouraged FEMA officials to take another look at the lingering damage.

 "I believe if they take a closer look at our proposal, they will see that we have families and businesses still in need of this assistance," he said.

This isn't the first time Tomblin has appealed a FEMA decision this year.

FEMA initially denied individual assistance to state residents after the June 29 derecho. However, the agency reversed that decision and granted aid to 20 counties following after Tomblin appealed the initial decision. 

While officials are appealing aid for individuals affected by Sandy, FEMA has granted public assistance for Barbour, Boone, Braxton, Clay, Fayette, Kanawha, Lewis, Nicholas, Pendleton, Pocahontas, Preston, Raleigh, Randolph, Taylor, Tucker, Upshur, Webster, and Wyoming counties.

The federal public assistance covers ongoing recovery and repair efforts being carried out by state agencies, counties, cities, towns, and public service districts in the selected counties.


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