Floods prompt county state of emergency declaration

MORGANTOWN — The door to federal emergency relief funds was opened Wednesday when the Monongalia County Commission unanimously voted to declare a state of emergency due to the flooding on July 29.

Speaking at Wednesday’s meeting, MECCA 911 Director Jim Smith said it has received 123 reports via its website, from individuals and businesses registering property damage. That doesn’t include damage reports from municipalities or organizations such as the Morgantown Utility Board and West Virginia University. 

Now that the commission has declared a state of emergency, the next hurdle to getting federal emergency relief funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency is meeting the minimum damage threshold of about $2.9 million countywide, Smith said.

Smith said anyone who suffered property damage in the most-recent flooding needs to fill out the initial damage assessment form on mecca911.org by Aug. 11. Those initial reports will be sent to the state and then FEMA. 

The intersection of Patteson Drive and University Avenue is still closed as a result of the flood, Smith said.

Westover resident Katelyn Eichelberger, whose home was made unlivable in the flood, told the commission that speaking with Smith on Wednesday morning about what was being done gave her the most hope she’s had since it happened. 

Eichelberger, who previously spoke with The Dominion Post about the catastrophic damage the flood caused to several homes in Westover, reiterated to the commission how bad the situation is for her and her neighbors. 

Diana Moore, a neighbor of Eichelberger’s whose home may be a total loss because of the flood, said the situation is heartbreaking. Moore and the others in Westover affected do not live in a floodplain and did not have flood insurance.

“I’m not the only one that needs help, a lot of people do,” Moore said. “At least I have my daughter’s to live at now.” 

Moore said she isn’t sure how many of her personal belongings she would be able to recover.

Commission President Sean Sikora said the commission will put pressure on the state to address the issue. 

Sikora also said there’s a larger discussion that needs to happen about why and how flooding of this magnitude — twice in six weeks — happened and what to do to protect the county going forward.

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