Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly sent a letter to the Prince William Board of County Supervisors on Tuesday after Chairman Corey A. Stewart told flood victims that they need to be reaching out to Connolly and the federal government for assistance.
In his letter, Connolly said that federal aid can’t come to Woodbridge until Gov. McDonnell makes a formal request, asking President Obama to issue a disaster declaration for Tropical Storm Lee, which left more than 150 Woodbridge residents homeless.
“It would be appropriate for Prince William County to ask Gov. McDonnell to request a federal major disaster or emergency declaration,” Connolly said. “I stand ready, willing, and able to support your request … and will begin working immediately to draft a letter to that effect.”
During Tuesday’s board meeting, Stewart told the dozens of flood victims that the Federal Emergency Management Agency needs to step up and help because the county can only do so much. The storm hit the Holly Acres mobile home park the hardest, and county officials are condemning almost 70 of the 108 trailers in the park off Route 1.
“We need the feds to do their jobs,” Stewart said. “When other communities are hit by disasters, FEMA comes in. I’d like people to contact Congressman [Gerry] Connolly. …He really should be helping.”
County officials said FEMA representatives are scheduled to be in the community this week to assess damage, but Connolly reminded the board in his letter that there is a “clear and specific process” that needs to be followed before any disaster-related assistance is –or is not-provided.
Connolly applauded the Prince William fire, police and social services departments as well as the American Red Cross, which are all working to aid families. He, however, said he is troubled that the county plans to close the makeshift shelter for flood victims on Friday.
“I am concerned to hear reports that a deadline of Friday…has been set and that these families, including many young children, will be forced to leave the shelter,” said Connolly who has visited the flood victims. “Setting a deadline, in and of itself, does not solve the problem and risks adding to Northern Virginia’s homeless population.”
County officials said they can’t provide long-term housing and as of Tuesday evening, still planned to close the shelter at 5 p.m. Friday.