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FEMA denies Virginia’s request for federal assistance after February tornadoes

Posted at 5:08 PM, Apr 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-04 17:15:38-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Governor Terry McAuliffe’s request for federal assistance to help Virginians and homeowners impacted by the February 24 tornadoes has been denied by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

FEMA administrator Craig Fugate said the damage from the tornadoes “was not of such severity and magnitude as to be beyond the capabilities of the commonwealth, affected local governments, and voluntary agencies.”

The National Weather Service confirms eight tornadoes touched down across Virginia, on Feb. 24, ranging from an EF-0 to EF-3 or winds ranging from 65 to 165 mph. The event left at least four people dead and at least 50 injured.

Waverly tornado damage

Sussex County tornado damage

According to the request by McAuliffe, the highest concentration of damage occurred in Appomattox, Essex, and Sussex Counties. This includes 64 destroyed homes and a total of 251 homes impacted in the three counties.

This was the first time tornado-related fatalities have occurred during the month of February in the recorded history of disasters in the state.

“We’re disappointed that our request was denied,” said State Coordinator Dr. Jeff Stern. “The Commonwealth intends to submit an appeal to FEMA that further illustrates the widespread impacts from the tornadoes.”

Essex County damage

Essex County damage

The Governor’s office said an appeal will be submitted to FEMA.

The Virginia Department of Emergency Management said they will reach out to emergency management partners in the affected counties to gather any additional information that further supports an appeal for Individual Assistance.

States have up to 30 days after receiving a denial letter to submit an appeal to FEMA.