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Justice calls for creation of a state fund to aid disaster victims

By Greg Jordan, Bluefield Daily Telegraph

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Reflecting on losses inflicted by seven tornados last week, Gov. Jim Justice spoke Wednesday about creating a state fund to help victims of storms and other disasters when Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance is not forthcoming.

Justice said during an online administrative briefing that the National Weather Service has confirmed that seven tornados, the highest number since the 1970s, touched down in West Virginia last week. Rains caused high water and flooding in some areas, and one woman in Wood County died after driving into high water.

“What is most devastating to me is the difficulty in getting FEMA across the finish line,” Justice said, adding, “The problem with FEMA is that they want a great number of people that are affected or a great amount of property that was affected.”

Justice said one plan the state is pursuing is to combine all the tornado and storm damage reported in Fayette County and other parts of West Virginia into one incident for FEMA to consider. People such as the chief at the Nutall Volunteer Fire Department, who was at the station when a tornado struck in the Hico area of Fayette County, saw property damage.

The governor called for the creation of a $50 million “bucket” fund to help the state’s victims of floods, mudslides, tornados and other disasters. He said creating such a fund and finding a way to replenish it was an issue he wanted to address in May during a special session of the Legislature. The idea was brought up during the Legislature’s previous session, but did not move forward.

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