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RISE and fall

Officials need answers on program’s problems

About a week ago, state officials announced the RISE West Virginia program had completed 75 homes for victims of devastating June 2016 floods in some southern counties.

Unless enormous progress in RISE is recorded during the next couple of months, state legislators convening the regular annual session in January should hold (more) hearings on why it is taking so long to help flood victims.

As we noted in October, the federal government released $149 million intended to help the flood victims in February 2018. It quickly became apparent the RISE initiative, established for disaster relief, was not moving swiftly enough. Reforms were demanded.

But a year and 10 months after that $149 million was made available, just 75 homes — most of them mobile homes, incidentally — have been provided for flood victims. Another 60 homes are in what the state calls “active construction.”

Anything involving government at any level seems to move with excruciating slowness. But this is not just another bureaucratic program — it is supposed to be helping fellow West Virginians who are hurting.

Lawmakers already have asked questions about RISE delays. Again, if dramatic progress has not been made during the next two months, a priority item on the Legislature’s agenda should be finding out why $149 million was not enough to ensure that people who lost their homes more than three years ago were in new ones by now.