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Water and sewer systems need flood proofing, says head of WV’s National Guard


Charleston Gazette-Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — In his 34 years in the state National Guard, Adjutant General James Hoyer said he has been sent to provide emergency relief to the same flood-damaged water and sewer systems “over and over,” and told legislators Sunday the state should set standards for water and sewer plants located in flood plains.

In 2016, the National Guard provided emergency operations capability to 20 water and sewer systems damaged by flooding, and in all instances, most if not all the damaged systems were located in flood plains, Hoyer told a legislative interim committee on infrastructure.

Maj. Gen. James A. Hoyer, adjutant general of West Virginia and head of the state’s National Guard.
(Gazette-Mail photo by F. Brian Ferguson

“While it is more expensive to flood proof them upfront…over the long term, it saves us money,” Hoyer said, citing the expense of sending the Guard to set up emergency water operations in areas where flooding has damaged water treatment plants.

“In the past 18 months, the Guard has responded to multiple events that people regard as 1,000-year flood events,” he said.

Col. Randall Isom also told the committee it makes sense to require water and sewer systems to meet standards to withstand flooding.

“If you’re going to keep it in the flood plain, you’re going to have to do this, this and this so it will cost us less to recover,” he said.

Also Sunday, Division of Highways engineer Greg Bailey told the committee the state has some $77 million in charges pending before two federal agencies for road and bridge repair following the 2016 floods.

He explained that the Federal Emergency Management Agency covers debris cleanup and repairs to secondary roads that are not eligible for Federal Highways Administration funding.

He said the state has turned in $38.9 million of charges to FEMA from the 2016 floods and has been paid $10.35 million to date.

The state also has turned in $38.33 million of charges to the Federal Highways Administration for emergency relief, and has received $18.29 million to date.

Reach Phil Kabler at [email protected], 304-348-1220, or follow @PhilKabler on Twitter.

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