After Huntington Damage, WV Flood Planning Event Takes Center Stage / Public News Service

Less than two weeks after the mayor of Huntington issued an emergency declaration regarding the second episode of large-scale flooding to hit the city in the past nine months, elected leaders from across West Virginia, State officials who work on flooding and the Principal State Resilience Officer were already scheduled to meet.

A flood planning symposium is being held Wednesday and Thursday this week in Charleston, sponsored by the State Resilience Officenational organization NOTand The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Matthew Sanders, senior director of flood-prepared communities for The Pew Charitable Trusts, said recent flooding in West Virginia, which reportedly damaged more than 100 homes, made the event even more significant.

“The point of this plan is to really start thinking further into the future and anticipating the most likely types of flooding in the future,” Sanders explained. “So that the state can take mitigating action to reduce this risk. It’s really the only way out of this toxic cycle of ‘disaster, response, recovery’.”

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice visited the Huntington flood damage last week, noting that the state must work together to make repairs and prevent such damage from happening again.

The visit and comments came two days after the justice declared a Emergency state for Huntington and other flood-affected areas, which authorized the West Virginia Emergency Management Division to use all state resources necessary to support local counties in their response.

This week’s two-day symposium will focus on updating Mountain State’s 18-year-old flood protection plan.

Sanders said now is the time for the 80 officials and experts who were scheduled to attend to work together to prevent more West Virginia families from suffering catastrophic flood damage.

“The next step, I think, beyond this symposium is to figure out how the state can take what it’s working on and really engage with the public in a thoughtful way,” Sanders urged. “So that West Virginians in the state A) have an understanding of current and future flood risks and B) have some degree of involvement.”

The Red Cross has reportedly distributed more than 900 meals to affected Huntington residents and will remain in the area for at least the rest of the month to help those in need.

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