Just when you think Prince William County Board Chair Corey Stewart can’t get any nastier or more incompetent, he somehow manages to do so. The latest?
Apparently, despite Stewart’s frequent bragging about Prince William County’s $44 million budget surplus, Mr. Tough Guy won’t part with a few thousand dollars in order to keep 100+ flood victims (including children) — residents of the county that Stewart ostensibly “leads” – from being booted out onto the streets at the end of this week. Check this out.
Dozens of Virginia flood victims are worried that Prince William County will leave them high and dry.
More than 150 residents evacuated from Holly Acres mobile home park due to Tropical Storm Lee-related flooding last week are homeless, their mobile homes condemned. On Friday, the county-run shelter that’s housed them the past few days will close.
“Unfortunately, we cannot use that county facility later than next Friday and we have to lay down a very clear message that people have to go out and they have to find new homes, and we will try to help them, but as of Friday, that option will no longer be available,” Stewart said.
Wow, can we say “completely heartless” or what?!? I mean, the whole “rule of law” anti-immigrant thing was bad enough, but at least in that case, Stewart could (implausibly) argue that his raging xenophobia was REALLY all about cracking down on “illegality.” Yeah, I know that’s utterly ridiculous, and that it really was about bashing Latinos in order to win an election, but at least Stewart had some sort of excuse in that case, however lame.
But how on earth can Stewart justify, in any way/shape/form, being utterly callous to citizens of Prince William County who did absolutely nothing wrong, but who happened to be poor and in the path of flood waters as a result of Tropical Storm Lee?!? It’s truly astounding. In addition, Stewart appears to be completely ignorant of the law, specifically with regard to how to procure disaster relief money for one’s county. Either he’s clueless, or he’s just engaging in his usual political posturing — while real people are hurting, not that he cares.
With all that in mind, on the “flip” is the text of Rep. Gerry Connolly’s letter to Stewart regarding this absurd situation and how it might be resolved by Stewart and also by Bob McDonnell. Sadly, it probably won’t be, given what we know about Stewart and McDonnell, but at least they now have the facts and an explanation of how the law works in front of them, thanks to Rep. Connolly. It’s so pathetic, though, that it had to come to this…
September 13, 2011
Dear Chairman Stewart,
It is my understanding that you have instructed citizens to request my help in securing federal resources to assist Prince William County in providing temporary shelter to county residents displaced by last week’s flooding. After personally visiting and meeting with flood victims at the Woodbridge High School shelter last week, I was deeply moved by their plight and pledged to do everything in my power to assist them.
I applaud the efforts of the Prince William County Police Department, Fire Department, Department of Social Services and the American Red Cross in quickly responding to this disaster and arranging for temporary shelter. You should be proud of the fine public servants working in Prince William County government. But I am concerned to hear reports that a deadline of Friday, September 16 has been set and that these families, including many young children, will be forced to leave the shelter. Setting a deadline, in and of itself, does not solve the problem and risks adding to Northern Virginia’s homeless population.
As to your request that I secure federal resources to help offset the cost of providing temporary shelter, I am sure you are aware that federal disaster assistance for individuals, non-profits, and local and state governments is governed by the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. The Act delineates a clear and specific process that must take place in order for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide disaster-related assistance. Coincidentally, information explaining this process is available at www.fema.gov for you to review at any time.
The Stafford Act clearly states, in 42 U.S.C. 5170, that federal major disaster or emergency declaration requests must be made by the Governor of the state in which the disaster occurred. As a Member of Congress, I cannot compel or request disaster relief funding unless such a request has been made by Governor McDonnell and ultimately granted by FEMA or President Obama. Governor McDonnell would, under federal law, need to demonstrate that the recent flooding caused by Tropical Storm Lee has overwhelmed the resources of both Prince William County and the Commonwealth of Virginia.
While Governor McDonnell has declared a State of Emergency in response to Tropical Storm Lee, to my knowledge he has not yet made a request through FEMA for a federal major disaster or emergency declaration. Given this set of facts, it would be appropriate for Prince William County to ask Governor McDonnell to request a federal major disaster or emergency declaration. I stand ready, willing, and able to support your request to Governor McDonnell and will begin working immediately to draft a letter to that effect. Please copy me on your letter to Governor McDonnell so I can begin working to support your request.
Because time is of the essence, I have included information from FEMA that outlines the steps required to obtain federal disaster relief or emergency assistance.
Gerald E. Connolly
Member of Congress
11th District of Virginia