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Tomblin Appealing FEMA's Decision Denying WV's Request For Emergency Protective Measures

Reported: Feb. 12, 2014 8:47 AM EST
Updated: Feb. 12, 2014 11:26 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Jeff Morris) -- Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced Wednesday that he is appealing a decision by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to deny West Virginia's request for emergency protective measures through the emergency declaration issued in response to the Kanawha Valley water crisis.

Tomblin said in a news release that FEMA Deputy Associate Administrator Elizabeth A. Zimmerman told the governor in a Monday letter that based on a review of the information available "it has been determined that the event was not of such severity and magnitude as to warrant grant assistance under this emergency declaration."

The governor said he is "extremely disappointed" by FEMA's initial response.

"I share the frustration and anger of West Virginians who have endured this crisis," Tomblin said. "I have personally contacted FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate to express my concern over this decision. We are committed to providing the detail necessary to demonstrate the assistance needed by the public safety agencies that have provided support to citizens since this crisis struck more than one month ago."

West Virginia's congressional delegation also released statements about FEMA's decision.

"I promised the people of West Virginia that I would look out for them and do all that I can to protect their health and well-being," U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller said. "It's a solemn oath I take very seriously. For that reason, I am working with our delegation to appeal FEMA's decision. My priority remains getting the state the resources it needs from FEMA and the White House to assist West Virginians during this ongoing crisis."

"It has been more than a month since this disastrous chemical spill tainted 300,000 West Virginians' drinking water and there are still countless questions left unanswered. It is bad enough that hundreds of thousands of people continue to worry about the potential long-term health effects of these chemicals, they shouldn't have to also worry about the economic impact to their families' bottom lines, their businesses and their communities," U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin said. "I thank Gov. Tomblin for appealing FEMA's decision to deny direct funding assistance to the nine affected counties. Whenever our country faces a national disaster, our government steps in to support our citizens in their time of need. This time should be no different. I urge FEMA to reconsider their decision and work as a partner with the people of West Virginia as we continue to clean up and come out of this disaster stronger."

"It is essential that all resources necessary be made available to protect the health and safety of our people. I will continue to urge FEMA to provide our State with the assistance it needs to address the consequences of the spill." said Congressman Nick Joe Rahall.

West Virginia has 30 days to file its appeal.

Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said he has already reached out to U.S. Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin and U.S. Reps. Shelley Moore Capito and Nick Rahall.

Carper got the thumbs-down from Capito Wednesday.

"We estimate expenses to be in excess of $300,000, and expect those expenses to reach $500,000 in Kanawha County," Carper said in a statement. "Fire departments, law enforcement and many other agencies have endured costs responding to the crisis, also a need for individual FEMA assistance, as many have had to buy their own water & emergency supplies and do not have the extra money to pay for these items."



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