Thanks to a state grant of almost $880,000, about a dozen Appomattox County homeowners may be able to rebuild or repair their houses damaged by a tornado in 2016.
“I think [the grant money] is absolutely welcome. A lot of prayers were answered. We had a lot of people that were uninsured, and it will really help those folks out,” said Sam Carter, chairman of the Appomattox County Board of Supervisors.
The grant money will go directly to the tornado recovery fund, managed by the Appomattox County Long-Term Recovery Group, according to Carter. The money is part of more than $4 million in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) being distributed among 10 projects in nine Virginia localities, according to a news release by Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s office Monday.
“Now we can really, really move forward with helping more folks and those that had to put up [recovery costs] with their own money,” Carter said. “This right here is a pure blessing.”
Nearly four dozen Appomattox Countyhomes suffered major damage Feb. 24, 2016, when a tornado packing winds of up to 165 mphleft a path of destruction 13 miles long and 400 yards wide through the community of Evergreen.
According to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, 30 houses were destroyed, and 12 houses sustained major damage.
Shelia McCoy was in Lynchburg planning for her mother’s funeral when the tornado destroyed her mobile home on Berry Lane behind Central Baptist Church, which also was leveled by the tornado.
“I feel very lost … my kids have kept me going, they’ve been by me,” said McCoy, who has been living with her daughter for almost a year, by phone Monday afternoon.
She said she hopes to rebuild her house but on a new piece of property on Red House Road and has been in contact with the Appomattox County Long-Term Recovery Group through Lynchburg Community Action Group, which is handling the case management for the recovery group.
The group, a coalition of volunteers from churches and area nonprofits as well as county government officials, collaborated with the Region 2000 Local Government Council in seeking the grant.
The application for $973,265 was earmarked for six houses that need to be rebuilt and to repair another 10 damaged houses. A portion of that money also will go to community cleanup like stump removal.
First priority for the funding would be uninsured and underinsured families, with eligibility determined on a case-by-case basis and evaluated by Region 2000.
The CDBG program provides funding to plan and implement projects that address critical community development needs, including housing, infrastructure and economic development, according to the news release. Other localities to receive grant funding include Wythe County, the town of Waverly, Buchanan County, the town of Exmore, Floyd County, the town of Dungannon, Wise County and Essex County.