Marion County Commission Set to Participate in FEMA Flood Grant Program | Local News
FAIRMONT — Grants make life easier for small towns and the people who live in them.
The Marion County Commission held its regular meeting Wednesday at the J. Harper Meredith Building and provided vocal support for two projects that will improve the lives of residents in select municipalities in Marion County.
The more timely of the two was the reopening of a flood subsidy program that took place in years past. In recent years, when some residents of Marion County experienced major flooding, the county received funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that allows the county to purchase land from owners who are repeatedly flooded. .
Marion County Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Chris McIntire briefed commissioners on Wednesday on the draft outline of the plan and gave instructions on how affected residents can determine if they are eligible for the program.
The way it will work is residents can visit an interactive online map that will show all of the properties that fall within the 100-year floodplain. If a residential property is on this plain and the owner wants to move, they can apply and the county will pay the estimated market value of the house and property.
“The important thing is to get people who are continually flooded to a place where they won’t be,” Commission Chairman Randy Elliot said. “We have a lot of people who don’t want to move, and I understand that, but we also have a lot of people who were looking for that.”
After the county purchases the properties with FEMA funds, the structures will be demolished and grass planted in place of the buildings. The county will allow neighbors to rent the property for personal use or allow the city to rent the space for recreation space, but due to FEMA regulations, structures cannot be rebuilt on properties within the floodplain.
“For a lot of people in the county who own these homes, there’s nowhere to go, if your home gets flooded every time the water comes in, it’s going to be hard to sell it like that,” McIntire said. . “It gives people a fresh start if they want to take part in the program and it’s a totally voluntary program.”
The county has not yet been approved for this round of grants, however, McIntire and the commission are confident the county will be accepted given its history of flooding and previous successful applications for this grant.
The resident application process for the program involves several steps. First, residents must go online to www.mapwv.gov/flood and find their residence and see if it falls into the red zone highlighting the floodplain. Once identified, residents can pick up an application at any town hall or county office or complete the form online at mariondhsem.com/emergency-management.
Nominations may also be requested by email by emailing email@example.com or by phone by calling 304-366-3620.
The county expects $6 million in funding to run the home purchase program. Residency applications must be submitted by May 1, 2022.
Also on the agenda was support for the town of Mannington, which is seeking a grant to purchase new surveillance equipment. The commission voted to express support for the grant application and said the grant should fully cover the cost of the new equipment and the county will not have to give money to the city to help with the purchase.
Elliot pointed to the difficulty small municipalities have in hiring and retaining police. Just recently, Rivesville hired its first full-time officer in years and discussed the struggles their town has had maintaining a police presence.
Improved surveillance equipment will add another layer of enforcement without the financial burden of hiring more police.
“It’s hard to have police in all of our municipalities, it’s hard,” Elliot said. “With surveillance cameras, you will have an eye and be able to do police work without the police.”
Mannington Mayor Lora Michael said the city now has security cameras, but they are outdated and need to be brought up to modern standards.
“As technology has changed over the years, we need an upgrade,” Michael said in a phone interview. “We are looking at cameras specifically in our downtown area and may be looking for cameras on our walking paths.”
Michael agreed with Elliot and said the city’s police force had dwindled and that she and her staff were working to lighten the load of officers they had. She hopes the cameras will do just that.