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Help Storm Victims, Governor Urges

May 12, 2011

By Jennie Lynn Price
Capital News Service

RICHMOND — Gov. Bob McDonnell is encouraging citizens to provide aid for victims of the April tornadoes, since the Federal Emergency Management Agency has declined Virginia’s request for disaster assistance.

The storm outbreak from April 8-28 left 10 dead, more than 100 injured, 212 homes destroyed and more than 1,050 homes and businesses damaged across the commonwealth.

The April 16 tornado in Gloucester County alone destroyed 10 structures and damaged nearly 180 others, causing an estimated $8.3 million in damages. This is in addition to the $16 million in damages to Page Middle School as a result of the storm, according to the Gloucester-Mathews Gazette-Journal.

Earlier this month, Virginia asked for federal disaster assistance for the counties of Halifax, Pulaski and Washington; FEMA denied the request.

State officials made an additional request that FEMA include April 8-28 as one incident period so other localities, such as Gloucester and Middlesex, could be added later. That request also was denied.

Several factors contributed to FEMA’s decision. According to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, many of the homes that were destroyed or damaged were insured, and many of the homes affected by the mid-April tornadoes were vacation or secondary homes.

Moreover, the damage in Virginia was not as severe as in other states such as Alabama.

The governor is considering an appeal of FEMA’s decision and has pledged to contribute state disaster recovery funding to assist affected localities.

For now, McDonnell is urging private companies, non-profit organizations, volunteers, faith-based organizations and citizens to assist the recovery efforts in any way possible.

“Times of natural disasters and other hardships bring out the best in Virginians. Those who are directly impacted are resilient and do not give up. Those who have not suffered a loss themselves step in to lend a helping hand, financial support and assistance to those who are in need,” McDonnell said.

To donate to the governor’s tornado relief fund, send a check payable to the Treasurer of Virginia, with the note “tornado relief” in the memo line, to the comptroller’s office, P.O. Box 1971, Richmond, Va., 23218. Donations are tax-deductible.

For more information on the fund and other ways to help, visit the Virginia Department of Emergency Management’s website at www.vaemergency.com.


How to Help

Here are ways to help specific localities, according to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management:

Gloucester County

To volunteer, call 757-262-0190.

To donate, send a check payable to Park Partners and note “tornado relief” in the memo line.  Send to Park Partners, 6467 Main St., Gloucester, Va., 23061.

Pulaski County

To volunteer or donate, call 540-994-2602.

Washington County

To volunteer or donate, call 276-525-1335, 1336 or 1337. For more information, visit www.washcova.com.

To contact the American Red Cross, Mountain Empire Chapter, call 276-645-6650.

To donate through the United Way of Russell and Washington Counties, visit www.rwcunitedway.org.

Checks payable to the United Way Disaster Support Fund can be mailed to the United Way of Russell and Washington Counties, P.O. Box 644, Abingdon, Va., 24212.

To donate from a mobile device, text “SUPPORT” to 27722 to make a $10 donation.