Flood report questions if homes were built under reconstruction program

CHARLESTON — As West Virginia recognizes the two-year anniversary of a deadly flood, investigators issued a scathing report about contracts that were supposed to frame the state’s long-term response.
West Virginia has been unlawfully operating under multiple long-term flood relief contracts worth millions of federal dollars, a report from the Legislative auditor’s office concluded. The audit questions whether any homes were actually completed under the Rise West Virginia reconstruction program
Lawmakers seemed stunned by the findings June 24.
“No homes have been rebuilt?” asked Senate Minority Leader Roman Prezioso, D-Marion.
The 2016 flooding that left 23 dead and an estimated 1,200 homes destroyed. Ten inches of rain fell over 24 hours in some areas, damaging businesses, roads and water and sewer systems.
The former administration of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, late in its term, made an emergency request to use a consultant to administer federal relief funds. But controversy about the state’s response to long-term flood relief has all been over decisions made during the current administration of Gov. Jim Justice.
No one from Justice’s office or the state Department of Commerce was present to appear before the Post Audits Committee of the Legislature. “I’m disappointed that there’s no one here,” said Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson.
The administration forced out Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher and the agency’s general counsel, Josh Jarrell, whose signature was on the contracts.
Justice claimed he had no way of knowing until recently about the problems West Virginia was having with long-term flood relief. That’s despite the many constituents who complained for months about Rise and its red tape.

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