Disaster declaration approved

Published 1:27 pm Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Lunenburg was one of several counties in the region that was granted a federal disaster declaration following Tropical Storm Michael, a declaration that could allow the county to receive federal assistance for recovery and repairs.

The Office of the Governor and the Commonwealth Regional Council (CRC) made the announcement of the declaration Dec. 18 and 19 respectively.

According to a release from the Governor’s Office, Gov. Ralph Northam sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Dec. 5 “requesting the declaration after the Commonwealth was impacted with damaging winds, flooding, tornadoes and landslides from Michael between Oct. 9 and Oct. 16. The president approved the request on Dec.18.”

One of the federal assistance programs counties in the region would be qualified for include the Public Assistance Program.

The program according to the Dec. 18 release, provides federal assistance to government organizations and certain private nonprofit (PNP) organizations.

The counties that are set to receive the Public Assistance Program include Lunenburg, Amelia, Appomattox, Brunswick, Campbell, Charlotte, Chesterfield, Cumberland, Dinwiddie, Essex, Floyd, Fluvanna, Franklin, Halifax, King and Queen, Montgomery, New Kent, Northumberland, Nottoway, Pittsylvania, Powhatan, Prince Edward, Rappahannock, Richmond, and Roanoke, as well as Danville and Galax cities.

The region, including Lunenburg County, did not make the cut concerning the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster loan assistance program, which is accepting applications until Jan. 14.

The declaration covers the independent cities of Danville and Salem, and the adjacent counties of Pittsylvania, Roanoke and Roanoke City in Virginia; and Caswell in North Carolina.

Businesses and nonprofits, according to the SBA, can apply up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster damaged real estate, machinery, equipment, inventory and other business assets. Loans for working capital, known as Economic Injury Disaster Loans, are available even if the business did not suffer any physical damage. Homeowners can apply for up to $200,000 to repair or replace disaster damaged real estate. Homeowners and renters can apply for up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged personal property including automobiles.

Lunenburg was one of 32 counties in Virginia that also was eligible for assistance due to damages sustained by Tropical Storm Florence.

“Tropical Storm Michael severely impacted dozens of localities, causing damage from rains, flooding, and high winds and spawning seven tornadoes that killed seven Virginians, including one first responder,” Northam said in the release. “It is clear the serious nature of these effects require additional federal assistance and I thank the president for approving my request so Virginia communities, families, and businesses can get the resources they need to help with ongoing recovery efforts from this storm.”

Two of the seven who died in the storm were from neighboring Charlotte County.

Northam, according to the release, also requested that the president approve the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program “to provide assistance for actions taken to prevent or reduce long term risk to life and property for natural hazards,” a program of which all areas of Virginia are eligible.

CRC Deputy Director Todd Fortune addressed the assistance during the Dec. 19 council meeting.

He said the Public Assistance Program “is available just to localities that are governed under the declaration, and that’s money, among other things, to help with replacement, relocation, repair of facilities that were damaged as a result of the event.”

Fortune said for the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, counties under the federal disaster declaration typically were given first priority, though the program is available to all localities statewide.

To learn more about the PAP and the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, visit https://www.fema.gov/public-assistance-local-state-tribal-and-non-profit or https://www.fema.gov/hazard-mitigation-grant-program.