Damage assessment underway in Preston County, officials hope to qualify for federal relief

KINGWOOD, W.Va. — The Preston County Office of Emergency Management is encouraging residents to fill out FEMA Damage assessment forms after severe rainstorms stemming from remnants of Tropical Storm Ida hit North Central West Virginia. Preston County recorded 5.1 inches of rain in Kingwood and 5.8 inches of rain in Tunnelton in 48 hours, the highest totals in the state. Despite that, it appears that the damage seen in Preston County is very minor compared to recent storms.

“We’ve seen mainly just flooding damage, we haven’t had any structural damage, just mainly high water in the structure damage,” said Preston County Office of Emergency Management Director Duane Hamilton describing the damage.

Even though Preston County property owners appeared to have avoided severe flood damage, the same could not be said for Preston County roads. This included road closures on Route 72 which washed out several parts of the fifty-five mile stretch of road. As a result of these closures, West Virginia Department of Highway employees were sent to assist in clean-up and reopening efforts.

“I know that the State DOH has some extra help up here trying to get all of that cleaned up,” said Hamilton. “I mean there were significant roads flooded, not sure to what extent because we haven’t been really dealing with that,” he said.

As a result of the lack of severe damage reported in Preston County, Hamilton did state that the odds of FEMA designating the storm as worthy of financial funds, to be very slim. While that possibility appears to be fairly certain, Hamilton is encouraging FEMA Damage assessment forms to be filed by any Preston County resident who feels they suffered significant damage. The reasoning is so that if there is a change of heart on a state or federal level, residents won’t get hit by a sudden deadline.

“The likelihood of us getting a federal declaration is probably slim, if any, because it was more of a concentrated area and not a lot of structures were affected,” he said. “We are still taking them (damage forms) and making sure that it gets fed to the state and federal government,” he said.

No firm deadline was given by Hamilton for Preston County residents to fill out the assessment forms but he did state that the sooner than later. Those that wish to do so are being encouraged to log on to https://acrg.is/ma0j4 where you will be directed to the assessment form that will then be sent from the Preston County Office Emergency Management to the appropriate state and federal authorities.

“But what we’re looking for is primary residence only, that’s the only thing they’re going to consider” he said regarding what should be submitted on the forms. “Not outhouses and those type of things, or if it’s a second vacation home, they won’t consider it,” he said.