Pew Applauds New West Virginia Flood Resiliency Law, Urges Funding for Implementation

Senate Bill 677 calls for new flood resiliency plan and authorizes money for two trust funds

WASHINGTON—The Pew Charitable Trusts today applauded West Virginia Governor Jim Justice for signing Senate Bill 677, which passed the state Legislature with bipartisan support on March 11.

The law calls for a new flood resiliency plan by no later than June 2024—with biennial updates thereafter—and authorizes a new $40 million Flood Resiliency Trust Fund to invest in projects to help make West Virginia’s communities flood-ready. The bill also authorizes $10 million for an existing Disaster Recovery Trust Fund. Both funds prioritize helping low-income communities and families and supporting nature-based solutions to flood threats.

Mathew Sanders, a senior manager on the flood-prepared communities project, issued the following statement:

“Flooding is an issue that West Virginians know all too well. It touches all 55 counties and 32 major watersheds—and, between 2010 and 2021, the state was affected by more than 1,600 separate flood events.  

“We applaud Senator Chandler Swope (R-Mercer) for his leadership introducing the bill, and Governor Jim Justice (R) for following through on his long-standing commitment to make flood resiliency a top priority for the state. This commitment is consistent with the governor’s and the Legislature’s desire to invest in and improve the state’s infrastructure.

“The new law prioritizes proactive planning and projects, including those that leverage the state’s natural landscape to combat rising waters—such as those from the Greenbrier River in the southeastern part of the state that contributed to deadly flooding in 2016. The law also requires that future investments in resiliency benefit primarily low-income communities—the communities that have the greatest difficultly recovering after a flood.

“West Virginians should be proud of this important progress. Now we must make sure that the Legislature and the governor fully capitalize the two trust funds. Research shows that for every $1 invested in flood mitigation, $6 is saved in cleanup and other response and recovery costs.”

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