Following the destruction Hurricane Florence brought Virginia last month, the costs incurred have been lessened as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will pick up 75 percent of bill due to President Donald Trump declaring the Commonwealth a disaster area in advance of the storm.
Federal funding is available to state, tribal, and eligible local governments, along with certain private non-profit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair and replacement of facilities damaged by the September storm in Henry, King and Queen, Lancaster, Nelson, Patrick, Pittsylvania, and Russell counties and the cities of Newport News, Richmond, and Williamsburg, with additional localities possibly being added at a later date.
“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 Ralph Northam (D) in a report from the Augusta Free Press. “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.”
The costly near miss for much of central and southeastern Virginia was originally authorized with a price tag of $60 million on the low end and up to $75 million on the high end, according to Secretary of Finance Aubrey Layne. Nevertheless, as stated by The Washington Post, the Commonwealth has spent about $44 million of the authorized total.
One of the biggest factors for the most costly storm preparation in almost a decade stems from the governor’s decision to evacuate 245,000 residents from low-lying parts of Hampton Roads, the opening of two state-sponsored emergency shelters, and the mobilization of 6,000 Virginia National Guard troops.
Although multiple deaths were attributed to extraordinary flash flooding and at least a dozen tornadic events, had Hurricane Florence directly impacted Virginia, the aftermath may have been worse than what has been seen North Carolina due to a much denser population and limited routes out of the Hampton Roads region.