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Kanawha residents can still apply for storm assistance

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency has already written about $600,000 in checks to individuals in four counties including Kanawha who qualified for individual assistance for damage during the June derecho.

Individuals in Kanawha, Raleigh, Nicholas and Fayette who had property damaged by storms from June 29 to July 8 are eligible to receive individual assistance. FEMA representatives attended Thursday's Kanawha County Commission meeting to discuss the individual assistance.

Residents living in those counties are not only eligible for reimbursement for damage to their property and homes, but also for purchasing a generator during the days-long power outage that followed the storm, said Michelle Breeland, individual assistance grant director.

And FEMA is still on hand to offer individual assistance, said Don Jacks, agency spokesman.

Individuals who sustained property damage during the storms can contact the agency at its Disaster Recovery Center at the South Charleston Community Center on Jefferson Road.

The agency can also be called at 1-800-621-3362.

"People have until November 19 to apply for assistance," Breeland said.

Jacks encourages anyone who sustained damage to their property to contact the agency, even if they do not think they are eligible.

"There are a lot of people in the state that need assistance," Jacks said. "We just want to get people back in their homes."

The U.S. Small Business Administration will also be on hand to help businesses that sustained losses, Jacks said.

FEMA representatives have visited about 600 pieces of property in the four counties inspecting damage for those seeking individual assistance, he said. However, Jacks said he would like to have more visits under the agency's belt.

Kanawha County Commissioners also encouraged anyone who sustained damage to apply for assistance. Commission President Kent Carper pointed out that individuals do not know if they are eligible until they apply.

"I think a lot of folks still don't know that we're offering individual assistance," Breeland said. The average payment for those receiving individual assistance has been about $1,300, she said.

Commissioners also voted to withhold Public Safety Grant money from three fire departments in the area during Thursday's meeting.

The decision to withhold the money was made because the departments failed to provide financial documents to the commission.

The Handley and Tornado departments were slated to receive $20,000 apiece, but had failed to provide financial documents. The Smithers Department, which was also slated to receive $20,000, also did not submit its financial information to the commission.

"Anyone can see that it (Smithers Department) is dysfunctional," Carper said.

The Chesapeake Fire Department, which has come under fire for its financial practices of late, did submit its financial data, and is therefore eligible for the $20,000 in county funds.

However, since the department's financial practices have been questioned in the past, the commission will pay the funds directly to Chesapeake's vendors, Commissioner Dave Hardy said.

The commissioners also sat as a Board of Assessment Appeals during Thursday's meeting. The Board of Assessment Appeals deals with appeals made by the assessor for tax purposes.

The Racing Corporation of West Virginia, the company that owns Mardi Gras Casino, had originally appealed the $47 million appraisal of its Cross Lanes property. However, the company and the assessor had settled on a $40 million appraisal, said Steve Sluss.

Sluss is the attorney representing the Kanawha County Assessors office.

"They're satisfied that this is a fair value for their property," Sluss said about the company.

The assessed value of the property is 60 percent of the appraisal. The assessed value is the figure used to determine property taxes.

Sluss was unsure what the difference in tax payments would be because of the $40 million appraisal.

County Engineer John Luoni also announced that a public hearing to discuss the proposed construction of two cell phone towers in Campbells Creek and Barrens Creek would be held in the commission chambers at the courthouse on Oct. 10 at 6 p.m. 

Contact writer Paul Fallon at or 304-348-4817.     Follow him at



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