FEMA continues to reimburse WVDOH

Substantial amounts of federal reimbursement money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency are continuing to flow into the bank account of the West Virginia Department of Transportation.

Brent Walker, a WVDOT communications director who works at the department headquarters in Charleston, said several packets of reimbursement funds have come from FEMA this year. Money received from FEMA is being granted because of cleanup efforts completed after severe, destructive storms such as the June 29 derecho and Superstorm Sandy.

Walker said $393,827 was received Jan. 17 and $224,907 was received Jan. 25. He also said a payout of approximately $4.4 million is expected next week.

This money, he said, is granted to the central DOT state office, not to individual counties. It is the responsibility of the central office to determine where funds are needed in individual counties.

“We reapportion it back to the counties where money is spent,” Walker said.

He said it is surprising to some that money being received now by the DOT is not directly associated with the most recent storm, Sandy.

The monetary figures listed above are associated more closely with the June derecho, Walker said, even though requests for reimbursement have been granted locally in the past several months.

“FEMA is thorough, but slow,” he said.

Walker said there is no timetable for when reimbursement for costs associated with Sandy will be received.

Donny Williams, an incident coordinator who works for the DOT in Morgantown, explained the process of reimbursement. He said an incident will take place – such as the derecho or Sandy – and the DOT in each county will respond accordingly with cleanup efforts as they are needed.

After cleanup, each county tallies their expenses, including those costs associated directly with the DOT and any private contractors being utilized in tandem with the DOT. The costs are then sent to FEMA in a request for reimbursement.

At that point, Williams said, FEMA will create a project worksheet that outlines costs incurred from each county. If reimbursement is deemed necessary, funds are distributed to the DOT as a statewide entity.

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