How prepared is West Virginia for the next natural disaster?

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – As Tennessee searches for missing people after receiving more than 17 inches of rain in Waverly, West Virginia braces for its next natural disaster.

The State Resiliency Office was established almost nine months ago.

“The resilience objective will be to have agents trained in each of these agencies who are trained in the resilience plan, whereas when the 2016 flood occurred, no one was trained on anything. – no one knew the HUD phone number, “said Senator Chandler Swope (R- Mercier).

Both federal agencies HUD and FEMA have awarded the state more than $ 300 million in grants to repair flood-ravaged homes following the historic 2016 flooding.

According to Swope, more than 700 houses had to be demolished.

“It took almost a year for the National Guard to work its way through the regulatory nightmare,” he said.

Swope, like other members of the Joint Flood Legislative Committee, is now a member of the Board of Directors of the State Resiliency Office.

He says their first meetings were largely organizational.

The challenge now is to create a resilience plan; a final document that has a communication strategy between different state, federal and local agencies.

“I refuse to give anyone a projection of how long this is going to take because this is a whole new mission that has never been done before,” he said.

Yet, there are those who say that one thing missing from their strategy is the role of climate change.

When asked, Swopes replied that it was a ‘no problem’.

He refers to the book “Unsettled” by physicist Steve Koonin who ultimately concludes that humans cannot have a measurable impact on climate change.

A 2020 Ohio Valley Resource article quotes WVU scientist and associate professor Nicolas Zerge as saying, “If we can’t even have conversations in Charleston about what climate change is and what’s going on. , how can we have risk mitigation designed in a way that actually protects the public? “

The State Resilience Office meets quarterly, its next meeting is in September.

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About Gail Mena

Gail Mena

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