Obama declares Southampton, Isle of Wight eligible for Irene aid

Published 6:44 pm Saturday, September 3, 2011

RICHMOND–Southampton and Isle of Wight counties are among 22 Virginia localities eligible for federal disaster assistance under an order by President Barack Obama on Saturday.

Franklin is not among the localities covered by the declaration but could be added later. State emergency management officials were said to be assessing the extent of Irene damage in Franklin on Friday.

The declaration makes the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Public Assistance Program available to cover government and nonprofit costs for damage to critical infrastructure, roads, buildings and equipment, debris removal, and related emergency services.

“I want to thank FEMA for making a quick decision on our request for disaster assistance,” said Gov. Bob McDonnell. “I expect to pursue additional disaster assistance once our damage assessments are complete.”

Other eligible localities are the counties of Essex, James City, Lancaster, Middlesex, New Kent, Richmond, Sussex, Westmoreland and York and the cities of Chesapeake, Emporia, Hampton, Hopewell, Newport News, Norfolk, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Virginia Beach and Williamsburg.

Federal disaster assistance funds are awarded through a reimbursement process that can take months and, in some cases, years.

In addition to the Public Assistance Program, Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funds were approved for the entire state.  The Hazard Mitigation program provides funds for government projects that help reduce disaster risks by protecting homes and businesses against future damage.

Virginia has not yet requested federal assistance for individuals or businesses. Federal, state and local are still evaluating damage to homes and private property. A decision to pursue disaster assistance for individuals and businesses will be made next week, McDonnell said.