VIRGINIA governor request federal aid after seeing firsthand effects of recent flooding

Wednesday, August 1st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

FORT BLACKMORE, Va. (AP) _ Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore joined his West Virginia counterpart in making a pitch for federal aid after visiting areas ravaged by another round of flooding.

Torrential downpours last week swept away homes and bridges in the two states and killed two people.

On Tuesday, one day after touring the ravaged areas, Gilmore requested federal disaster assistance for nine counties. The floods caused about $12 million in damage to roads and bridges in southwest Virginia, according to preliminary estimates.

``I know how hard the residents and business owners in many areas of southwest Virginia have been hit by rain, floodwater and mudslides,'' Gilmore said.

Also Tuesday, President Bush approved West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise's request that two more counties be declared federal disaster areas, bringing to 24 the number of counties eligible for federal aid.

Last week's storms came on the heels of a flood July 8 that destroyed 1,500 homes and also killed two people. The latest floods, the result of up to 7 inches of rain, were not as severe, but they struck a wider area.

Wise said he would appoint a nine-member disaster recovery board to oversee flood-relief efforts in the state.

``This is a terrible time for many people in West Virginia. But it also is a time of opportunity, the opportunity to do things right,'' he said Tuesday.

Before Sunday's flooding, the Federal Emergency Management Agency had estimated recovery efforts would cost about $180 million in West Virginia.

The body of a 3-year-old boy was recovered from the Tug Fork River just outside Davy, W.Va. The boy had been playing outside of his home and was swept into a drain pipe, a sheriff's investigator said.

In southwest Virginia, Grady Baker, 77, was killed Sunday when his mobile home was washed away by a flash flood, emergency service officials said.