(06/11/2021)
By Bob Weaver

A sad time for WV politicians, four years after the devastating 2016 flood, they have been slow to help many of the 500 people who lost their homes with $150 million dollars allocated for assistance.

Former Richwood mayor Chris Drennen has just been indicted on three charges of illegally paying herself and family members with money meant to help the deluged city recover from the June 2016 flood.

A report said about 85 Clay County residents left homeless did not receive assistance, but Gov. Jim Justice finally turned over the relief effort to the state's military.

The RISE program years later, hadn't finished any home reconstructions or rehabilitations, when it was taken over by the WV National Guard.

At the time, a report publicly released about a $150 million state flood recovery effort, the legislative auditor's office at the time, questioned whether any replacement homes for low-income flood victims were ever completed.

Using invoice data from RISE West Virginia, a program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to respond to the deadly June 2016 flood, state auditors found that all invoices paid by the West Virginia Development Office to its contractors only covered the initial phase of a house replacements.

Finally, the National Guard made progress.

The debacle would not have been disclosed if not for WV investigative reporters.

WV's governing officials have not been held accountable for the debacle, except the charges filed against Richwood officials.


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