Virginia legislators working to provide federal assistance for Buchanan County flooding victims

Published: Sep. 15, 2022 at 5:30 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - It’s been two months since devastating floods destroyed nearly 100 homes in Buchanan County. US Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) have announced they are working on getting a Major Disaster Declaration approved from the Biden Administration.

Friday is the deadline for residents to apply for relief assistance through United Way of Southwest Virginia’s Long Term Recovery Group. Many residents are still waiting on FEMA’s disaster assessment to find out if they qualify for federal aid.

Residents are concerned those with and without renter’s insurance won’t be eligible to receive federal aid.

“But everybody we went to, and I went to everybody and talked to them all, they said ‘Sorry, you don’t qualify,” one resident said. “What do you mean we don’t qualify?”

Senator Warner told reporters he’s working on legislation to change FEMA’s formula for disaster relief aid.

“I think showing some extra commitment to Buchanan County will go a heck of a long way,” Senator Warner said. “I think a lot of these folks are really concerned.”

Earlier this week, legislators wrote a letter to President Biden asking for a formal declaration of a major disaster. That declaration would help provide individual assistance for residents.

“What we are worried about is sometimes in more rural parts of our country, where property values tend to be lower than they are in metropolitan areas, the total lost property value sometimes is not a high enough number to get the attention of some of the federal agencies, like FEMA,” Senator Kaine said.

The senators are also working on securing disaster relief funding from the Commonwealth.

“Just a few million dollars could go a heck of a long way towards repairing some of that damage,” Senator Warner said. “Some of those creek beds, they’re almost permanently changed because of the erosion, and you’ve still got homes and businesses that I don’t know how they get saved.”

The deadline for United Way’s relief aid is separate from FEMA’s assessment and government assistance. United Way’s disaster assistance is mainly funded through donations to the long-term recovery group.

Anyone in the affected area wishing to apply should contact Denise McGeorge at the Buchanan County Department of Social Services at 276-935-8106.

Anyone wishing to donate to the Buchanan County 2022 Disaster Fund may do so by visiting here, by texting BUCH to 276-200-2440, by emailing or by calling Cristie Lester at 276-525-4071.