Stephanie Stiltner's home in Hurley was damaged but is being rebuilt, unlike several nearby houses. “We have issues here, but my neighbors' houses aren't even standing," she said. "To walk back off that hill and see nothing where stuff had been all your life, it is just -- I don't even have a word for it. Devastating is the best word I’ve got." Photo by Lakin Keene.

The Appalachian Regional Commission has awarded $174,458  to flood relief for Hurley, the Buchanan County community that was devastated by floodwaters and mudslides last August and where some people are still haven’t been able to return to their homes.

Map by Robert Lunsford

The announcement came from U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, both D-Virginia, and U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Salem. “The Town of Hurley has been left reeling from catastrophic flooding that took place last August,” the three said in a joint statement. “This funding will provide much-needed relief to the area and help those still dealing with the effects to rebuild.”  

Earlier, the Federal Emergency Management Agency had twice denied requests for aid to Hurley, saying the damage there wasn’t severe enough to warrant federal assistance. In a statement, the lawmakers said that “losses due to the flooding affected 1,000 community members, as 30 residential structures were damaged and more than 40 were completely destroyed.”

The money will go to the United Way of Southwest Virginia, which has set up a relief fund. The lawmakers said in a statement that the Appalachian Regional Commission funding will help assist “70 households with disaster relief and constructing or rehabilitating 50 homes.”

Last year, county officials said the cost of the structures that were damaged or destroyed was at least $5.7 million and likely higher. They also put the cost of road repairs at $2.8 million, the cost of restoring the water system at $8.5 million and the cost of stream restoration to more than $30 million.

In Richmond, Del. Will Morefield, R-Tazewell County, has proposed that the state appropriate $11 million toward flood relief in Hurley. Last week, he asked a House of Delegates committee to table his bill that would have established a flood relief fund in anticipation that the House version of the budget will include relief funding for Hurley.

In a statement to Cardinal News, Morefield said that he had identified “a clearer path in securing private assistance” for the flood victims in Hurley. “This has been my top priority during the General Assembly session and I am excited that details of the plan will be announced this coming Sunday when the House Budget is presented. What happened in Hurley is heartbreaking and I am committed to doing everything that I can do to help. I cannot thank my colleagues and Appropriations staff enough for all of their support.”