Recovery: Trump should approve disaster funding

More than three-and-a-half years after devastating floods destroyed three schools in Nicholas County, there is movement in getting enough federal money to build new schools there.

Federal Emergency Management Agency funding to the tune of $131 million has finally been approved, for completion of a mediated school plan that was agreed upon 16 months ago. The plan calls for building a new Richwood High School, Richwood Middle School and Nicholas County middle, high and technical education school.

If you’re wondering why a county with fewer than 3,800 total Pre-K through Grade 12 students needs that many new schools, recall that Nicholas County tried to save taxpayer dollars by proposing even greater consolidation … and the state Board of Education rejected the plan, essentially telling them they did not know what they were talking about, in their own county.

Given the delay caused by that discussion, the understandable hesitation the federal government might have had about sending any kind of money to Richwood after fraud was uncovered there, and the knowledge that there are still families hit by that same flooding who await the help they need, it is good to see this kind of movement now for the students in Nicholas County.

There is also a bit of good news in the possibility that the state’s share of the cost could be reduced, should President Donald Trump see fit.

“With these awards, West Virginia has exceeded FEMA’s threshold to modify the cost-share agreement from the current 75 percent federal-25 percent state to 90 percent federal-10 percent state,” said Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. “As with all Major Disaster Declarations, this cost-share adjustment requires the approval of the President of the United States. If granted, this would be applied retroactively and result in millions of dollars in additional federal funds to support the ongoing recovery in West Virginia.”

There has been too much delay in getting Nicholas and the other affected counties the help they need. Let us hope the president acts quickly to keep the recovery effort moving.