Legislative Update – by – Delegate Brent Boggs - House Majority Leader - 07.02.12
At this writing it is Sunday evening and I’m not sure where to begin. The storm last week was truly a statewide disaster event. As such, there was no similar event that covered so much of the state by which to draw from previous knowledge. And also at this writing, the National Weather Service has us bracing for yet another strong storm.
It will be several days before our services returns to near normal. Sunday evening, sufficient power was restored in Braxton County to begin pumping gas at some of the local gas stations. Glenville and surrounding counties that had power and gas were quickly pumped dry by the influx of residents and also those surrounding hard-hit counties. Ice and fuel lines formed as far north as Wheeling.
Gilmer County emergency officials have set up shelter at the Rec Center.. The Braxton County National Guard Armory is the central location in Braxton, with our volunteer fire departments working in their communities to provide shelter, food and water throughout central West Virginia. More will be announced as the week progresses.
In response to the storm damage, Governor Tomblin quickly issued a statewide emergency declaration and also quickly applied for and received a federal emergency designation. Both of these designations will provide for the release of state and federal funding to assist in the emergency management and cleanup costs, which will be extensive.
The Governor and his senior staff were accessible almost immediately after the storm hit. I appreciate Governor Tomblin, Adjutant General Hoyer and Homeland Security Director Gianato for flying to the Armory and meeting Sunday morning and assisting in coordinating with our legislators, emergency services directors and personnel, county commissioners, public service districts, DOH personnel, local health departments, law enforcement, WV National Guard, and a host of volunteers.
Make no mistake, we’re not out of the woods yet and no one is letting up until the task is completed. Thousands are still without power, adequate food, fuel and ice. Many will be in need of medical care and prescription drugs. Boss 97 radio has been a great local clearinghouse for public information. Mountaineer Food Bank has been an invaluable asset, both locally and statewide.
As previously stated, coordinating such a massive event is no easy task.. There is no playbook or template to follow, as we’ve never had such a widespread emergency. I am so appreciative of all the cooperation between agencies and emergency services personnel in Braxton and Gilmer Counties. We owe a great debt of gratitude to all that are working diligently, with little sleep and under adverse conditions, including Mon Power crews, contractors and workers from states as far away as Oklahoma.
West Virginia citizens are responding as expected. Folks are reaching out by helping their neighbors by sharing food, fuel and simply keeping in contact with those that have special health needs and issues. This is critical to the health and well-being of all West Virginians.
I know everyone is dealing with post-storm difficulties to varying degrees. To that end, I want to share with you an example that cannot be overlooked. I placed a call to State OES Director Jimmy Gianato shortly after the storm hit. He responded via text shortly afterwards and followed up with a call early on Saturday. However, I didn’t find out until a conversation with OMEGA Director Jan Vineyard on Sunday evening that Jimmy’s home in McDowell County burned while coordinating statewide emergency services at the Capitol. Apparently it may have been storm related.
He’s yet to mention his personal loss to me and continues to perform his job for the citizens of our State while dealing with his own personal disaster. I call that selfless dedication to duty.
How to Contact
Please send address your inquiries to the Capitol Office at: Building 1, Room 226-M, Charleston, WV 25305. Or, call the Capitol office at 304.340.3220 or my Assistant to the Majority Leader, Mr. Tom Bennett at 304.340.3262 or fax to 304.340.3213. If you have an interest in any particular bill or issue, please let me know.
For those with Internet access, my e-mail address is “Boggs34@aol.com”. You also may obtain additional legislative information, including the copies of bills, conference reports, daily summaries, interim highlights, and other information from the Legislature’s web site at www.legis.state.wv.us/. If you write or leave a message, please remember to include your phone number with your inquiry and any details you can provide. Additional information, including agency links and state government phone directory may be found at www.wv.gov and on the Facebook site of the West Virginia Legislature.
Remember to thank a veteran for their service to our nation and continue to remember our troops - at home and abroad - and keep them and their families in your thoughts and prayers. Until next week – take care.