West Virginia Commerce Secretary Thrasher resigns, per governor request

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice requested and received the resignation of Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher, a news release confirms. (WCHS/WVAH)

By: Anna Taylor | Posted: June 14, 2018 | Source: WVAH

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice requested and received the resignation of Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher Thursday, a news release confirms.

“I consider Woody a friend, and he’s done a solid job in the area of economic development,” Justice said in the release. “Thrasher expressed to me that recent media attention had distracted from what he believed was his core mission, economic development and business opportunities for West Virginia.”

Justice added that he hopes the resignation allows the state to turn its attention to the full recovery of all of the 2016 flood victims. The governor had announced earlier in the month that a restructuring of the Commerce Department, including terminations, would happen. He also turned RISE WV flood recovery efforts over to the state’s top military officer, West Virginia National Guard Adjutant General James Hoyer.

Justice called it inexcusable that the people hit by the flood of June 2016 are still waiting for assistance.

Justice said he identified a problem with a change order to Horne LLP, the contractor hired to help with the RISE West Virginia program. Justice said he canceled a $17 million change order which would have benefited Horne. Instead, Justice said the contractor will now be paid between $9 million and $10 million, with $7 million to $8 million funneling back into flood relief.

In the release Thursday, Thrasher released a statement, saying he accepted the appointment of Commerce Secretary “because of my love for the state, and because of Governor Justice’s vision that West Virginia and its citizens should not settle for 50th.”

“I want the governor and this state to be successful, and I welcome the opportunity to help any way I can in the future,” Thrasher said.

Clendenin Mayor Appealing to Governor Justice for Help

By: Alyssa Meisner | Posted: June 13, 2018 at 5:38 p.m. | Source: WOWKTV

CLENDENIN, WV (WOWK) – The Town of Clendenin is having big problems getting projects done to repair damage from the 2016 floods. Mayor Clendenin says she’s been reaching out to the state for months to get help, but her requests have fallen on deaf ears.

Clendenin’s Town Hall and Community Center may look fine, but there is still major work to be done.

“The work has been completed to the point that we can complete it, at this point. But going back to the original disaster and the original state of the buildings, there are some issues that need to be addressed,” Mayor Shana Clendenin told 13 News.

Clendenin was elected in July 2017 and by October she started realizing…

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Commerce memo says WV flood housing progress stopped for ‘pause’

By: Brad McElhinny | Posted: June 13, 2018 at 5:23 p.m. | Source: WV MetroNews

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — An internal memo from the state Department of Commerce contends this spring’s pause on a long-term flood relief contract had significant effects on the effort.

The pause affected progress for homes where construction had started, delayed ceremonies for applicants who were set to sign on as homeowners and slowed down environmental reviews that were part of the recovery process, Commerce contended.

The pause also threw construction workers into uncertainty and potentially risked sacrificing the millions of dollars administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Commerce concluded.

Brian Abraham, the senior counsel for the Governor’s Office, called after this story first posted to publicly question the intent of the memo. He contended it was…

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Clendenin Volunteers Assisting Flood Victims

By: Alyssa Meisner | Posted: June 12, 2018 at 6:02 p.m. | Source: WOWKTV

CLENDENIN, WV (WOWK) – Dozens of volunteers are back in Clendenin with just a week-and-a-half until the two year anniversary of the 2016 floods. Hundreds of homes and businesses still need help with repairs, and Tuesday high schoolers from Kansas are doing just that. (more…)

Flood victims complained to Governor’s Office about red tape for months

Shauna Johnson/WVMetroNews.com
Heavy rain led to more than six feet of river water on this street in Clendenin in 2016.

By: Brad McElhinny | Posted: June 10, 2018 at 9:08 p.m. | Source: WV MetroNews

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice says there was no way to know until recently that West Virginia’s pace of administering long-term relief funding was far slower than people’s expectations.

“If I would have known that the guy in Clendenin was going to the bathroom in the port-a-potty every day and there really wasn’t anybody there to help him, but if I would have been sitting on the top of the dome 24-7, I wouldn’t have known about the guy in Clendenin,” the governor said at a news conference last Wednesday.

“Because to be just as honest as I know how to be, from the standpoint of even the Guard, from the standpoint of all the king’s horses and all the king’s men in my office, from the standpoint of other legislators, there was no antennas up anywhere. Nobody, nobody was screaming from the mountaintops that there was a problem anywhere.”

But victims of West Virginia’s devastating 2016 floods have been…

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As flood anniversary approaches, volunteers clean up Elk River in Clendenin

More than 100 volunteers cleaned up tires and other debris from the river bank.

By: Lauren Talotta | Posted: June 9, 2017 | Source: WCHSTV

Two years after historic flooding ravaged parts of West Virginia, the town of Clendenin continues to rebuild. Saturday was dedicated to cleaning up the Elk River, as community members want to restore the river’s beauty to what it once was.

Local business owner George Smith remembers the 2016 flood like it was yesterday.

“The water receded, and the entire back of the store was gone,” said Smith.

That Family Dollar has reopened, along with much of the town, but just behind it lies the Elk River, still in shambles. Smith and more than 100 volunteers were looking to change that.

“The people who are here – they have it in their hearts – they want to clean this up,” said Chief Rod Johnson of the Pratt Volunteer Fire Department, who came out to volunteer. “This is just a tiny, tiny bit of what I can give back to the community.”

Kayakers rounded up leftover debris, and larger boats hoisted tires. Contractors like Smith operated heavy machinery, which they donated themselves.

“They’re actually dropping chains over and picking up the debris piles off of the bridges. Anything that can be brought in, we’re trying to bring it in,” said Smith.

For Johnson, Saturday was all about paying it forward after an outpouring of support for two of his firefighters killed earlier this year.

“You had people who were killed and injured. These people are still recovering,” said Johnson.

“We see a lot of resilience in the town of Clendenin – making this a place where people want to come again,” said Smith.

In addition to the dozens of volunteers, this effort was made possible by Kanawha County EMS and the DEP.

The second anniversary of the flood is next weekend.

Elkview family says RISE West Virginia program and contractors are not on the same page

The Strickland’s new trailer home sits empty while they wait on the RISE program and the contractor to finish up the work. (WCHS/WVAH)

By: Ashley Bishop | Posted: June 6, 2018 | Source: WCHSTV

Frustration is growing with flood victims in the RISE West Virginia Flood Recovery Program.

One man said he and his wife are just staring at their new home and must live in a 20-foot camper nearly after the June 2016 floods.

Eyewitness News found out what is holding up this man from moving in and where RISE realignment progress stands.

“The keys are in a lock box in the back with a combination thing on it,” Steve Strickland of Elkview said.

Strickland and his wife, Patty, stood in their driveway looking at their new trailer home Wednesday, which they got as part of the RISE program. The Strickland’s were victims during the 2016 flood.

Strickland said they started the process to get their new home back in February. His old trailer was torn down on March 19, and the new one was delivered in mid-May.

“He said once we get started on your trailer we won’t stop until it’s finished, this was 14 days ago,” Strickland said.

Strickland said he is eager to move in but said he can’t. He said he keeps getting mixed messages from the RISE program and the contractors.

“When we signed the contract on it, it was supposed to be a 30-day turnover,” Strickland said.

The trailer has no electricity, water, sewage or porches. Strickland said he is frustrated and worried. The couple has been living in a small camper, yards away from their new home. Patty is sick and on oxygen, and growing upset over what she calls lack of communication and professionalism between RISE and the contractor

“They don’t care. Neither one of them are fond of each other and they don’t know what they are doing,” Patty Strickland said.

While the West Virginia National Guard has taken over the RISE program, a spokesperson said they’re working “fervently to identify those families and individuals who are in need of assistance and determining how to get things moving forward where there were stopgaps.”

But for the Stricklands, they are left waiting for the contractor.

“He told me he was going to Lowe’s and be here first thing this morning, nobody showed up,” Strickland said.

Gov. Jim Justice has called another news conference on the RISE program for Thursday, which you can watch online here.

Clay County family worries RISE West Virginia help is still far from reach

By: Kalea Gunderson | Posted: June 5, 2018 | Source: WVAH

In Clay County, two next-door neighbors, a father and daughter, have two very different stories of recovering from the June 2016 flood. (WCHS/WVAH)

The Eyewitness News iTeam continues to follow the progress of the RISE West Virginia flood recovery program.

In Clay County, two next-door neighbors, a father and daughter, have two very different stories of recovering from the June 2016 flood.

Four months of waiting to unpack boxes and sit down for a family meal finally is finally coming to an end for Bobby Schoolcraft.

“It’s going to be a lot of pressure off our minds and everything now that we’ve really got a place we can really lay down and sleep really good,” Schoolcraft said.

Schoolcraft and his wife finally…

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General Hoyer says he’s up to task of getting flood recovery moving

Steve Rotsch/Governor’s Office
Adjutant General James Hoyer makes a point after being introduced by Gov. Jim Justice as the point person for long-term flood relief in West Virginia.

By: Brad McElhinny | Posted: June 5, 2018 | Source: WV MetroNews

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gen. James Hoyer knows he has a big job ahead.

The adjutant general of the West Virginia National Guard has taken on the task of making sure long-term relief for flooded West Virginia communities succeeds.

“Number one priority the governor has is to make sure those who were flooded from 2016 who need and deserve housing get taken care of,” Hoyer said today on MetroNews’ “Talkline.”

Hoyer was among those at the table on Monday as Gov. Jim Justice promised a speedier, more accountable response to long-term relief from the devastating 2016 floods.

Justice described placing his faith in Hoyer to…

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Governor Justice revamps RISE WV and puts General James Hoyer in charge

Major General James Hoyer, center, of the West Virginia National Guard, talks about issues with West Virginia’s long-term flood relief effort during Monday’s press conference addressing management and performance of the RISE West Virginia program. Gov. Jim Justice, left, puts Hoyer in charge of the program moving forward. Senior adviser Bray Cary, at right, joined Justice and Hoyer, along with Jenny Gannaway of West Virginia Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, Habibi Mamone of the charitable Neighbors Loving Neighbors, Jimmy Gianato of WV Homeland Security and Chief of Staff Mike Hall Monday at the news conference. (West Virginia Press Association Photo/Dalton Walker)

By: Kennie Bass | Posted: June 4, 2018 | Source: WCHSTV

We were the first to tell you about problems with the RISE WV flood recovery program and we have been sharing the stories of people still dealing with the aftermath of the 2016 flood who are in need of help. Some are still living in flood-damaged homes. Others who were hit by the high water have been turned down for assistance.

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice conducted a news conference Monday, surrounded by the new team he has put in place to get the RISE West Virginia flood recovery moving.

Justice overhauled the relief effort in charge of nearly $150 million in federal money designed to fix single-family homes and rental units damaged or destroyed in the June 2016 flood.

Justice said a restructuring of the Commerce Department, including terminations, is underway.

Saying the state’s Commerce Department has dropped the ball, Governor Jim Justice said…

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