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US House OKs $500M flood relief bill for WV, MD, LA

BECKLEY, W.Va. — In a late night vote Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a measure allowing $500 million to be allotted to flood relief funds to three states, including West Virginia.

The House voted 342-85, easily approving a 10-week stopgap spending which will continue to fund the government, known as a continuing resolution or CR. Included in the CR is $500 million for flood recovery funding for West Virginia, Maryland and Louisiana.

The Obama White House voiced support for passage of the continuing resolution in a statement of administration policy earlier this week.

 Rep. Evan Jenkins said the funds will be in the form of Community Development Block Grants administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The funding will address the  “critical need” to rebuild communities effected by recent flooding, including the historic deluge that destroyed areas of southern West Virginia in late June. It will support efforts to rebuild homes, businesses, schools and infrastructure in flooded communities.

Just getting the funding into the CR was a “major victory for our communities,” said Jenkins.

 The funding will be competitive, as two other states are also eligible, said Jenkins. But a seminar on how to obtain the funding and other grants will be held in Huntington to give community leaders an idea on how to win part of the $500 million.

Earlier, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin had requested about $310 million in federal funding to offset West Virginia’s cost of cleanup and repairs. During a conference call with reporters, Jenkins said the $500 million is a “down payment.”

Jenkins said when Congress returns after the election, the West Virginia delegation will work to secure more funding for flooding relief.

Also included in the CR was $7 million to combat West Virginia’s opioid epidemic, he said.

See more from The Herald-Dispatch. 

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