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Governor requests federal assistance for storm damage

Halifax is among the counties for which Gov. Bob McDonnell has requested federal disaster assistance to reimburse for its costs associated with responding to the widespread severe derecho wind storm that affected the entire state June 29-30 and the heavy thunderstorms with high winds and hail that occurred the evening of June 30 and the afternoon of July 1.

“Tragically, we lost 15 lives as a result of the recent storms that impacted the commonwealth. Many more Virginians suffered property damage and lost power for extended periods of time during a record heat wave. The historic derecho storm and the follow-up thunderstorms required extraordinary response and recovery efforts at the local and state levels,” said McDonnell. “Our first responders, state agencies and private partners worked around the clock for an extended period of time during the storm and in its aftermath to keep our citizens safe and restore services. Our focus remained on the health, safety and welfare of our citizens throughout the event and its immediate aftermath. During this time we witnessed extraordinary acts by public servants, private partners and our citizens. Neighbors helped neighbors and communities helped communities. Once again, Virginians demonstrated leadership, resilience and kindness to others – characteristics that make our Commonwealth what it is today. Our Department of Emergency Management has now received post-storm assessments from local governments and, working hand-in-hand with FEMA Region III, has completed the preliminary damage assessments. We have determined that Virginia should meet all of the requirements for federal public assistance. Federal assistance is vitally important to help our localities recover significant costs associated with responding to the storms and keeping our citizens safe.”

In addition to Halifax County, McDonnell requested federal funds through FEMA’s Public Assistance program to aid the counties of Albemarle, Alleghany, Amelia, Amherst, Appomattox, Arlington, Augusta, Bath, Bedford, Bland, Botetourt, Buckingham, Campbell, Carroll, Charlotte, Clarke, Craig, Culpeper, Cumberland, Dinwiddie, Fauquier, Floyd, Fluvanna, Frederick, Giles, Greene, Highland, Louisa, Lunenburg, Madison, Nelson, New Kent, Nottoway, Orange, Page, Pittsylvania, Powhatan, Prince Edward, Pulaski, Rappahannock, Roanoke, Rockbridge, Rockingham, Shenandoah, Tazewell and Warren and the cities of Bedford, Charlottesville, Covington, Danville, Fairfax, Fredericksburg, Lexington, Lynchburg, Manassas Park, Martinsville, Radford, Roanoke, Salem, Staunton and Winchester.

Some costs that are eligible for reimbursement through the public assistance program include activation of emergency crews to respond to the storm; opening of cooling centers and shelters; debris removal; repairs to publicly-owned property such as roads, water and sewer systems; and damage to electrical systems. 

The request is not for the federal individual assistance program, which provides aid to individuals and families with uninsured losses, because most private property that was damaged was insured. 

The governor also requested hazard mitigation assistance for all Virginia localities. The hazard mitigation assistance program helps local and state governments implement measures designed to reduce the impact of future disasters. 

If a federal disaster declaration is received to help local governments through the public assistance program, additional governments not included in this request can be added at a later time. Emergency management officials continue to compile information about storm damage that occurred throughout Virginia. 

Among the critical public facilities affected by the storms in Virginia were local communication systems, waterworks, transportation systems, medical and health facilities and electric utilities. 

A total of 47 jurisdictions declared local emergencies. Many public facilities had to operate on emergency power generators for extended periods of time. Also, eight public and private waterworks affecting more than 8,000 consumers were disrupted, and 15 waterworks implemented boil water notices. As many as 217 roads maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation were closed due to downed trees, power lines and debris. 

During storm response and recovery, more than 140 cooling centers and 15 shelters were established throughout the state.

The June 29-July 1 storms occurred during an extended heat wave, contributing to 15 deaths and causing the third-highest level of power outages ever in Virginia, affecting an estimated 1.3 million customers.