Damage assessments in Buchanan delayed due to threat of flash floods

Assessments expected to continue Monday.
Damage assessments in Buchanan County are going to take longer than expected due to more inclement weather in southwest Virginia.
Published: Jul. 29, 2022 at 8:43 PM EDT
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BUCHANAN, Va. (WWBT) - Damage assessments in Buchanan County will take longer than expected due to more inclement weather in southwest Virginia.

Wednesday’s joint damage assessment between the Department of Emergency Management, FEMA and the Small Business Administration was put on pause due to heavy rain.

Those assessments were set to conclude Friday but were cut short due to new threats of flash flooding.

Deputy Communications Director of VDEM Jason Elmore says only a small joint assessment is a necessary process to receive federal assistance.

“Once all of those assessments are done, and those numbers are hashed out, then we’ll be able to determine when we’ll be able to recommend to the governor to put in a presidential declaration to the White House,” said Elmore. “And once that’s done, we’ll be able to get more information back from FEMA and the federal government.”

Still, there are no guarantees that the area will qualify once those public or individual damage assessments are complete.

“As far as public assessments, your businesses, your nonprofits, your local governments, if any of the property in that is damaged, it has to meet or exceed $4.10 per capita in uninsured eligible costs for the locality,” Elmore said.

At last count, approximately 129 structures were affected by the historic floods:

  • 33 destroyed properties
  • 32 with major damage
  • 28 with minor damage
  • 36 affected by some type of flooding

This count does not include damages to public infrastructure, which has a separate federal declaration process.

Once the damage criteria are met, the governor can request a Major Disaster Declaration within 30 days of the incident. Should a request be made, the president can either approve or deny the request.

“It’s possible we can request an additional 30 days. That way, we can make sure all of our people are safe when trying to complete our damage assessments,” Elmore said.

Elmore says the impacted areas of Buchanan County are set to see more rain through the weekend. The damage assessment is expected to continue Monday and end sometime in the middle of next week.

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