By CHAD ABSHIRE
WILLIAMSON - Those who were affected by the March 15-31 flooding in Mingo County have recently received assistance, and soon will have a chance for a bit more.
A town hall meeting for residents of Mingo County affected by the severe weather last month has been scheduled for Thursday, April 26, at 6 p.m. at Dingess Elementary School, 101 Schoolhouse Rd., Dingess WV 25671.
Representatives from FEMA will be present to provide information and answer questions from residents regarding the flood. Specifically, experts in individual assistance, hazard mitigation, small business administration, voluntary agency liaisons and community relations will be in attendance.
Dingess, where the meeting will be held, was hit especially hard from the severe weather.
“We were in the Dingess and Twelve Pole communities today and were shocked at the damage the residents there experienced,” Mingo County Emergency Services Director Jarrod Fletcher said on March 15, as he updated Mingo County Commission President, John Mark Hubbard.
“Old County Road and Moses Fork Mountain were hit hard,” Fletcher said. “There are numerous mudslides and more that keep forming. Bridges are washed out, heat pumps were destroyed, underpinning on numerous mobile homes is gone– we seen a countless number of homes fully surrounded by water.
“School buses didn’t even attempt to transport some of the Dingess Elementary students home, but chose to keep the children safe at the school and contacted the parents to pick them up.”
The scheduled meeting follows two recent actions that made it easier for residents of Mingo County to recover from the flooding.
On Monday, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed Executive Order No. 7-12, which extended tax relief to taxpayers residing in Logan and Mingo counties due to major flooding and extensive wind damage from severe storms.
“Storm-damaged communities around the state continue to rebuild and therefore, we must provide needed tax relief to help them move forward,” Tomblin said. “I am happy to provide this tax relief to bring additional support to the people of Logan and Mingo counties as the recovery process continues and normalcy returns.”
According to a release from the West Virginia State Tax Department, the order suspends the consumer sales and service tax and use tax on purchases and uses of certain building construction materials and supplies, mobile homes, house trailers, modular homes and similar units that would substantially improve efforts to provide needed housing to affected citizens of West Virginia. The order also suspends the consumer sales and service tax and use tax on purchases pertaining to the restoration and reconstruction of storm-damaged properties within the affected counties.
The Exemption Certificate is available at www.wvtax.gov or at any state tax department office.
On Friday, April 20, state and federal officials announced that residents of Mingo and Lincoln counties were eligible to receive federal assistance to help affected individuals, families and businesses recover from losses sustained in the flooding that occurred between March 15 and March 31.
A major disaster declaration was issued by President Barack Obama for the State of West Virginia on March 22, triggering the release of federal funds to help individuals and communities recover from the severe storms, flooding, mudslides, and landslides.
Disaster survivors in these counties who suffered losses during the flooding may apply for temporary housing assistance and housing repair, among several other benefits, a release from FEMA stated.
“This funding is key for the many families struggling to get their lives back to normal,” U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall said in a statement. “Families are the cornerstones of our communities, and speeding their recovery helps whole communities rebound. I saw firsthand some of the worst areas struck by these extraordinary storms, and I am pleased the federal government continues to respond to my request for a federal declaration to expedite critical federal funding.”
Homeowners, renters and businesses should apply for disaster assistance by calling the FEMA Hotline at 1-800-621- 3362 or TTY at 1-800-462-7585. Multilingual assistance is available. The toll-free line is open from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. local time seven days a week until further notice, the release stated.
Applicants can also register online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or with a web-enabled mobile device or smartphone at m.fema.gov. Follow the link “Apply for Federal Assistance.”
The deadline for registering with FEMA for affected residents is May 21.