VDEM Expedites Payout of More Than $14 Million in Winter Storm Jonas Public Assistance Grants
Assistance reimburses local and state governments for snow removal and damages from January 2016 storm.
The Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) this week finalized more than $14 million in disaster reimbursements to localities and state agencies for costs incurred responding to Winter Storm Jonas, which dropped more than 2 feet of snow on parts of Virginia January 22-24, 2016. President Barack Obama approved federal disaster assistance for Virginia in March 2016 to help state agencies and impacted local governments, in addition to certain types of private nonprofit organizations, recover from the severe snowstorm.
Governor Terry McAuliffe requested federal aid through FEMA’s Public Assistance program, which reimburses local and state governments on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of damaged facilities.
When record snow storms like this hit Virginia, recovery efforts for individuals, businesses, emergency response agencies and localities are just beginning. A complex system of federal and state grants is used to ease financial burdens of recovery, but processing those applications has typically taken several years. Using an innovative new approach, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) has consolidated grant programs, taken a regional approach to working with localities and non-profit organizations, and established a closer partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to reduce the timeline to process and begin paying out over $14 million in Public Assistance grants to reimburse costs accumulated during Winter Storm Jonas.
“One of our major missions is to work with affected localities and emergency responders at the state and local level to reimburse them as quickly as possible for disaster response expenditures,” said VDEM State Coordinator Dr. Jeff Stern. “It is incredibly taxing on local budgets to respond to a major disaster and then not see reimbursement for months or years after that event. Municipal budgets are much too tight to float those expenses for several years. That’s why we have reorganized our agency to be more responsive to recovery needs after an event.”
This program was made available to Albemarle, Arlington, Caroline, Clarke, Culpeper, Fairfax, Fauquier, Frederick, Highland, King George, Loudoun, Louisa, Patrick, Prince William, Rappahannock, Spotsylvania and Stafford and the cities of Alexandria, Falls Church, Manassas, Manassas Park and Winchester counties. The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) also received reimbursement for its significant efforts to clear roads during the storm.
Projects eligible for reimbursement included activation of emergency personnel to respond to the storm; snow and debris removal; repairs to publicly-owned property, such as roads, water and sewer systems; and other related emergency services.
The storm impacted 662 interstate, primary and secondary road segments. Virginia State Police responded to 13,994 calls for service, including 1,859 accidents and 3,153 disabled vehicles. The Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner confirmed 11 storm-related deaths. Governor McAuliffe proactively declared a state of emergency on January 21 in anticipation of the severe winter storm and mobilized the Virginia National Guard to assist in the emergency response.
VDEM works with local government, state and federal agencies and voluntary organizations to provide resources and expertise through the five mission areas of emergency management; prevention, protection, mitigation, response and recovery. To learn more about ways VDEM is working to improve disaster preparedness, response and recovery, visit www.vaemergency.gov.
Be ready. Be willing to help.
Virginia Disaster Relief Fund
How is the money distributed?
Fund proceeds will be distributed to local long-term recovery groups, members of the Virginia Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster and other non-profit and faith-based organizations as a grant.
Many of these groups work directly with individuals and families following a disaster.
How else can I donate?
The Virginia Disaster Relief Fund benefits projects that include: repair or rebuilding of underinsured dwellings, transportation assistance, replacing essential household items, helping renters establish new rental residence, temporary living expenses while recovering from loss, and more.
How can I donate?
If you want to help, send checks made payable to the Treasurer of Virginia with “Virginia Disaster Relief Fund” noted in the memo line to:
P.O. Box 1971
Richmond, VA 23218-1971