CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Federal aid is on its way to some of the communities in West Virginia ravaged by flooding last month, the governor said Thursday, delivering some good news on the same day the owner of a posh resort announced the imminent reopening of the resort's signature hotel.
In Charleston, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced in a news release that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved public assistance for 11 of West Virginia's 55 counties to help officials remove debris and to replace or restore publicly owned facilities damaged by the flooding. FEMA already has approved more than $18 million in individual assistance to help people with medical and housing support and other immediate needs.
Slated to receive help are Clay, Fayette, Greenbrier, Jackson, Kanawha, Monroe, Nicholas, Pocahontas, Roane, Summers and Webster counties.
Also Thursday, Jim Justice, owner of The Greenbrier resort and a Democratic candidate for governor, announced that the resort's 710-room hotel will open again Tuesday, saying he wants to get hotel employees back to work.
"We're not going to heal if you don't have a job," Justice said at a news conference in White Sulphur Springs. Justice said the resort is "scarred" and "repairing," but he promised: "We will be back."
The hotel closed to outside guests on June 24 but took in more than 700 flooded-out residents. The PGA Tour canceled the Greenbrier Classic golf tournament, which had been scheduled to begin Thursday at the resort.
The June 23 floods killed at least 23 people in West Virginia, including 15 in Greenbrier County alone.
The body of a woman found more than a week after she disappeared during the floods was identified as that of 44-year-old Lisa Goins Blankenship of Renick, her sister Joetta Goins-Lemons said Thursday.
On June 23, Goins Blankenship sent her two sons down the road to call their dad and tell him not to come home because the roads were getting bad, her sister said. She then asked a neighbor to help get her dog out of a kennel. The neighbor was pulled underwater a few times. When he surfaced, Goins Blankenship was gone.
Her body was found Saturday in the Greenbrier River more than 30 miles from her residence. Authorities called the family on Wednesday, Goins-Lemons said.
Associated Press Writer Jonathan Mattise contributed to this report.