1:15 PM EDT, August 24, 2011
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Virginia has a new fund to help victims of disasters.
Gov. Bob McDonnell said Wednesday that the Virginia Disaster Relief Fund will be made a permanent part of the state's disaster relief tools. Officials say it will serve as a "fund of last resort" if other state, federal and private aid is unavailable.
McDonnell asked for donations after requests and appeals for federal aid for April's tornado damage were denied. The funds will first be used for those victims but will be available for any disaster.
An additional $1.1 million in pledges and donations was announced Wednesday, $600,000 pledged by the governor is state aid from the state's 2011 surplus, about $111,500 in donations collected at Virginia ABC stores, and about $25,000 in funds collected from private sources.
Here is the full news release:
Statement By Robert Hurt On Governor McDonnell's Announcement Today Regarding The Virginia Disaster Relief Fund
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Robert Hurt (R-VA) released the following statement after Governor McDonnell’s announcement today regarding donations to the Virginia Disaster Relief Fund for those who were impacted by April’s tornadoes:
“The devastating destruction and damage caused by the April tornadoes affected many people in the 5th District and across Virginia. We are grateful that so many Virginians have risen to the occasion to help and support those in need, and I want to thank Governor McDonnell for his leadership. As we work to ensure that the victims of the severe weather receive the necessary assistance to recover from the storms, we hope that going forward, Virginians will continue to look for ways to help those who were impacted by the April tornadoes."
Below please find the Governor’s press release from today:
Governor McDonnell Announces Major Corporate and Individual Donations to Virginia Disaster Relief Fund
– $1.1 Million Raised in August to Add to Relief Fund; Disaster Relief Fund Made Permanent Tool for Citizens Relief –
RICHMOND - Surrounded today by community leaders, storm victims and corporate and individual donors at the Virginia Emergency Operations Center, Governor Bob McDonnell announced that an additional $1.1 million in pledges and donations for the Virginia Disaster Relief Fund was raised through individual and corporate donors during August. The announcement comes after the governor encouraged private companies and citizens to rally to aid communities across Virginia that were impacted by April's tornados. The governor also ordered that the fund be made a permanent part of the Commonwealth's disaster relief tools, serving as a fund of last resort if other state, federal and private aid is not available to assist victims of disasters.
The governor and his staff asked for corporate and private donations to augment the fund, which will support the victims of April's severe weather and will be used to aid Virginians impacted by future disasters. The move came after Virginia's requests and appeals to the Federal emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for the April storm damage were denied.
"Times of natural disasters and hardship bring out the best in Virginians who always step up to lend a helping hand, financial support and recovery assistance to those who are in need," Governor McDonnell said. "While government aid and relief organizations can help communities get back on their feet immediately after a disaster, it is the often unheralded financial and emotional support from faith-based organizations, private businesses, non-profit entities, volunteer organizations and good Samaritans in the months and years following a disaster that make the largest impact on long-term recovery. While the headlines may have moved on from those whose lives have been devastated by these April storms, they still need our support as they work to rebuild. That is why I am thrilled to be joined today by so many who have opened their wallets and their hearts to provide aid to their fellow Virginians. Through the generosity, cooperation and partnership of these donors, we have raised $1.1 million in August. I am challenging Virginians to band together and help us raise another $1 million by Nov. 1 to help meet the $2 million in unmet needs from April's storms, and to deposit money into this fund to assist future disaster victims."
Beginning today, Governor McDonnell also announced a state agency challenge contest to see which of Virginia's 89 executive branch agencies can raise the most money for the Disaster Relief Fund. The agencies that achieve the top dollar donations, highest percent participation and highest average gift will be announced at a special ceremony and the governor will personally award a special prize to the winners. The challenge period will last 30 days beginning today Aug. 24 through Sept. 22 and winners will be announced Sept. 29.
"There is great satisfaction in seeing the Disaster Relief Fund continue to grow through the generosity of Virginians around the state," the governor said. "However, that pales in comparison to looking into the eyes of people like the Gallimore family or Mose Hammer whose lives have been devastated by these natural disasters, and witnessing first-hand how these donations can make a lasting difference as they are rebuilding their lives. I thank all of our donors and those who have worked tirelessly in the recovery effort to help those impacted by the April tornadoes and hope that their example will encourage others to participate by donating to this important cause. As we continue to recover from the jolt of Tuesday's earthquake and continue to track Hurricane Irene which threatens the east coast, we are reminded that we must always be prepared to respond to natural disasters that may impact the Commonwealth and its citizens. This fund will ensure that we are."
Donations and pledges made in August include:
To donate, visit www.disasterfund.virginia.gov
In addition to the $1.1 million announced today, individual citizen and state employee donations to the Disaster Relief Fund by check and credit card have totaled $25,500, and ABC store donations have added $111,500. A state contribution of $600,000 in unspent general funds has been authorized by the governor.