Keep up the fight in Follansbee

On July 30, parts of downtown Follansbee were left under water after heavy rains and a debris-laden stream bed resulted in Allegheny Creek overflowing its banks into the city streets and local homes and businesses.

Residents from throughout the Ohio Valley came out to help, both during and after the cleanup, donating their time and money to help the community in its attempt to reclaim what was lost.

There is still much to do, though, and for the last several months city officials have been working in the hope of receiving aid from the state and federal levels — both to recoup some of the local expenses and to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.

So far, no help has come.

This week, members of Follansbee Council suggested the possibility of circulating a petition as part of further lobbying efforts with the Legislature.

We would support any initiative the city can put together to prevent such a disaster from happening again. We also must be realistic, though.

Shortly before Follansbee’s flooding, West Virginia had to contend with a far greater disaster which impacted — and in some cases almost wiped out — several communities. Millions of dollars have been awarded to assist in the rebuilding efforts in southern West Virginia ever since.

In Follansbee’s case, no emergency declaration was ever issued, leaving few options for the state to provide funding. On top of that, the Legislature will be facing a multi-million-dollar deficit when it convenes Feb. 8. State officials will be looking for ways to cut funding in order to balance the budget, meaning they will be less likely to hand out money beyond what is needed for operations.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has deemed the damage to be short of its criteria for assistance, so there is little help expected from there either.

We aren’t sure what assistance may be available — whether through grants, volunteerism or other means — but we urge city officials and residents to not give up hope. Keep working toward a solution so this does not happen again.

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