Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) is asking charitable groups and businesses to step up donations to communities damaged by a string of deadly tornadoes in April, as he pledges state assistance as well.
The request comes as McDonnell contemplates appealing a ruling by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to deny federal assistance to the communities.
But it’s possible that the more successful McDonnell is at securing local aid for Halifax, Pulaski and Washington, where tornadoes that struck from April 8 to 28 killed 10 and left 100 injured and 212 homes destroyed, the less likely is FEMA to reconsider.
After all, FEMA weighs requests for federal assistance based on the ability of local and state communities to respond to disasters on their own. And the federal agency has determined that Virginia has the ability to handle the tornado damage on its own.
“Based on the review of the information available, it was determined that the damage from this event was not of such severity and magnitude as to be beyond the capabilities of the state of Virginia and the affected local governments to handle,” said FEMA spokesman Brad Carroll of Virginia’s request.
As FEMA weighs requests, it looks at how much damage and trauma was caused by any disaster, the ability of local and state groups to respond and local insurance coverage for the damaged area — federal relief cannot duplicate insurance coverage.
Virginia has 30 days from Saturday’s denial of its request to appeal.
“While government aid can help communities get back on their feet after a disaster, it is the often unheralded financial, physical and emotional support from faith-based organizations, private businesses, non-profit organizations, volunteers and other good Samaritans that make the largest impact on the recovery effort,” McDonnell said in a statement. “That is why I am reminding all Virginians that, while the headlines may have moved on from those whose lives have been devastated by these storms, those who are working to rebuild their lives still need our support.”