June 20, 2017


Every June 20th, West Virginians come together to celebrate the day our beloved Mountain State became our country’s 35th state.  It’s a day that unites all of us because of our shared history and traditions. West Virginians share a deep sense of pride for what it means to call this place home. And this year, we are especially proud as our state turns 154, and as we look back on the year that has passed since devastating floods tested – but did not defeat – our spirit and strength.    

The State of West Virginia was founded during the Civil War by patriots who were willing to risk their lives in a united pursuit of justice and freedom. Since our state was forged through the fire of our nation’s Civil War, Mountaineers have stepped forward for causes greater than themselves – for love of family, for protection of our nation, and for fierce devotion to our state and its people. West Virginians have always abandoned the status quo to fight for what is right. Today, this proud lineage continues through West Virginians who work incredibly hard – and who always, without question, help one another.  

Mountaineers inspire me every day, with a powerful spirit of giving that made us who we are – and has been the driving force that carried us out of last year’s flooding and toward a stronger tomorrow. 

On this West Virginia Day, I am profoundly grateful to the countless volunteers and neighbors who have lifted up their fellow West Virginians over the past 12 months. 

Last June, we lost 23 of our own. Families were devastated. Thousands of homes and businesses were destroyed. Children lost their schools. Communities were shaken to their core. 

But, as we do in times of challenge and trial, West Virginians bounded strongly together – because that’s just who we are. 

Local fire halls and churches were food pantries and safe havens. First responders and National Guard members, as they always are, were heroes. And West Virginians from all backgrounds and corners of the state were organizers, ambassadors, and philanthropists. 

From the high school students who built tiny homes for flood survivors to the volunteers who cleaned out homes, those who delivered food and water in a time of great need, and the neighbors who never forgot one another, the meaning of ‘West Virginian’ is now more deeply carved in stone.

‘West Virginian’ means open, giving hands. It means casseroles and phone calls. It means tears of shared joy and sorrow. It means friendly waves and encouraging friendships. It means faith and conviction in the face of loss and adversity. 

On this day in 1963, President John F. Kennedy proclaimed, "The sun does not always shine in West Virginia but the people always do." Last year at this time, the sun wasn’t shining – but as the floodwaters receded, our spirit would shine once again. 

On West Virginia’s 154th birthday, we celebrate the remarkable spirit of selflessness that defines our cherished state, has carried us out of heartache – and will keep us forever closely-knit, and proud, and grateful. 




Flood-damaged homes may qualify for mitigation grants; community emergency managers know how to apply

State officials are asking homeowners interested in reducing future flood damage to their homes to reach out to their local officials to participate in the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP).

The HMGP provides grants to state and local governments after a disaster to take steps to reduce future damage to property from natural disasters. For homeowners, the HMGP program provides options such as:

  • Elevating your home on its present site, 
  • Relocating your home to an area less prone to flooding, and 
  • Reconstructing your home through Mitigation Reconstruction process. 

The HMGP also allows communities to acquire and demolish repetitively flooded or damaged properties for fair market value. 

This is not the first time the state has provided information on the HMGP program. Following the June 23, 2016 flooding a series of public meetings were held statewide to provide information on these options for affected homeowners. 

“Many homeowners are already working with their local governments, but we do not want anyone missed who wants to participate,” said Jimmy Gianato, the State Coordinating Officer for this disaster.

HMGP funds are being made available statewide for interested homeowners. To apply, homeowners must work with their communities officials to submit an application on their behalf to the state and FEMA. Homeowners have until August 25, 2017 to coordinate with their local officials to apply. 

More information on the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program is available at:


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