West Virginia Record

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Stuart announces federal investigation into use of FEMA funds

By Kyla Asbury | May 4, 2019


CHARLESTON — U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia Mike Stuart opened a federal investigation into the 2016 flood disaster relief.

"The deadly 2016 floods were a seminal event for West Virginia," Stuart said in a press release. "Too many of our precious citizens lost their lives."

Stuart said many other lives were terribly impacted.

"Critical infrastructure including roads, bridges, and water systems were destroyed or significantly interrupted," Stuart said. "And too many West Virginians lost their most critical personal asset – their homes."

Stuart said many lives were turned upside down.

"To this day, the future remains uncertain for too many of our friends and neighbors," he said.

The federal investigation will look into what federal money was spent on in recovery efforts statewide.

Earlier this year, an audit found that Richwood had only put $400 toward its water intake system that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had given the city $500,000 toward, according to the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

"Post-disaster, the federal government committed millions of taxpayer dollars to disaster relief for recovery with the intent that the assistance would help rebuild lives and rebuild communities," Stuart said. "Critical federal resources through FEMA and the Department of Housing and Urban Development are essential to the rebuilding process and must be used wisely, timely and legally."

Stuart said every available dollar for disaster relief must be spent on disaster relief.

"Diversion, fraud, corruption or delay cannot and will not be tolerated," Stuart said. 

Stuart said desperate communities and West Virginians depend on critical, limited dollars to assist in recovery.

"Desperate communities and West Virginians need certainty that in a future disaster intended assistance will be delivered timely and spent properly," Stuart said. "West Virginians need to be reassured that federal law enforcement is now investigating this matter.

"Rest assured, my office is working with appropriate federal agencies to investigate the issues of disaster relief, and use of federal funds related to the historic 2016 floods and I can assure our citizens that any party that abused their position of authority, violated the public trust, or misused taxpayer dollars will be held accountable, if warranted."

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United States Attorney's Office Southern District of West Virginia