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Kanawha reports very little damage from superstorm

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Only a handful of government agencies and even fewer individual families in Kanawha County reported damages from superstorm Sandy, officials said Friday.

County representatives met with Peg Kemler, project specialist for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to learn more about claiming any storm-related damages and expenses that towns, fire departments and other agencies in the county accrued from Oct. 29 to Nov. 8.

Kemler said FEMA would reimburse agencies for expenses related to snow removal, debris cleanup, overtime pay for employees and structural damage.

Many agencies, however, did not have a lot to report, said C.W. Sigman, Kanawha County's fire coordinator and deputy emergency manager.

No agencies present during Friday's meeting reported damage to government buildings and no fire department representatives attended.

Most agencies would only have claimed the use of generators during the snowstorm that resulted from what was initially Hurricane Sandy, he said.

St. Albans Mayor Dick Callaway said he's claiming the use of several generators that were used to power water and sewage utilities and the Hansford Senior Center.

FEMA does not reimburse the cost of fuel, but pays out a usage rate based on the generator's kilowatt voltage, Kemler said.

"What we need is a log sheet from the time and date you turned [the generator] on and the time and date you turned it off," she said.

Kemler said agencies have 30 days from Friday to make FEMA aware of claims. The sooner those agencies file their claims, the quicker they'll get money, she added.

Sigman said it's important for people to understand that FEMA is not providing money for families.

"There is no individual assistance declaration, but were trying to get one," he said.

Residents in Kanawha and multiple other counties will receive individual assistance tied to the June 29 derecho windstorm, but none yet has been declared for Sandy.

"If you do have damage, call and let us know," Sigman said. "We're not promising you anything, but we can get that recorded so we can try and get you some money."

Sigman said Kanawha County residents could call if they ran a generator for medical reasons, bought an oxygen concentrator, lost wages from closed businesses or filed insurance deductibles for structural damage.

To report an individual claim, call Kanawha County Homeland Security and Emergency Management at 304-357-0570.

Reach Travis Crum at travis.crum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.


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