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Rahall wants faster FEMA response to West Virginians

By Staff reports

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Rep. Nick J. Rahall, D-W.Va., pressed the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Tuesday to make sure West Virginians who suffered property damages from superstorm Sandy receive the full range of federal assistance.

"I fully understand the tremendous burden FEMA officials are under during such widespread disasters like Sandy, Rahall said, "but our citizens need and deserve timely answers, especially when such disaster assistance is so critically needed."

Thousands of West Virginia residents are still waiting to find out if they are eligible for disaster assistance. Last week, a federal disaster declaration was issued for 18 West Virginia counties, including seven southern counties.

Rahall said he believes FEMA guidelines should be updated to guarantee "more timely and responsive disaster assistance.

"More than a month after the storm, West Virginia families are still waiting for a decision on whether individual assistance will be made available to help them repair broken roofs, fix affected businesses and recoup lost wages."

In response to damages from an earlier storm, the June derecho, the House passed legislation at Rahall's request encouraging greater flexibility in FEMA's guidelines to consider disaster assistance requests, including losses from extended power outages.

"West Virginians across our state were dealt a double-blow from mother nature in less than six months time," Rahall said. "After both disasters, power outages were long lasting and widespread; property was destroyed, and lives were seriously disrupted, and even lost."


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