October 28, 2019

Manchin Announces More Than $3.1 Million For Yeager Airport 2015 Landslide Reimbursement

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced a grant of $3,191,183.12 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for Yeager Airport in Charleston. This funding reimburses the Airport for cleaning up the debris associated with the collapse of the runway as a result of a landslide in 2015. Today’s grant brings the total funding to nearly $25 million that Senator Manchin has helped secure for the Airport to recover from the runway collapse in 2015.

“As the largest airport in the state, Yeager Airport serves as an important gateway to our beautiful state and a vital transportation hub for our state and economy. As a pilot, I know how critical Yeager Airport is to the entire state. Since the devastating landslide in 2015, I have worked closely with airport officials, the FAA, and FEMA to secure the funding necessary for Yeager to rebuild its runways and continue servicing West Virginians and our visitors. As a member of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, I included language to allow the FAA to provide additional funding to the airport, and as a member of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, I made sure that FEMA did its part, too. I always have our West Virginia airports in mind and will continue to ensure they receive the funding they need,” said Senator Manchin.

Yeager Airport is very appreciative of the persistent efforts by Senator Capito, Senator Manchin, Congressman Mooney and Congresswoman Miller to obtain FEMA funding that reimburses the airport for slope failure debris cleanup. This funding will allow the Airport to pay off debt and invest in further infrastructure improvements,” said Nick Keller, Yeager Airport Director.

Timeline/Background on Senator Manchin’s work on the Yeager Airport Runway Collapse:

  • In March 2015, Charleston Yeager Airport (CRW) suffered a landslide that caused the airport's EMAS System to collapse.  While FEMA provided $903,615 to cover emergency protective measures, it subsequently denied the airport’s request for $73 million to cover the permanent replacement work. 
  • Senator Manchin worked closely with airport officials, the FAA, and members of the Congressional delegation to secure funding to begin repairs to the runway.
  • Senator Manchin successfully included language in the 2017 Omnibus that would make funding available to Yeager Airport for critical runway repairs. The provision allows airports impacted by a Presidential disaster declaration to use Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funding for permanent repairs relating to runway safety if they are denied funding for these permanent repairs through Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). 
  • Yeager has since received two AIP grants of $13.8 million in 2017 and $7 million in 2018 for this project.
  • CRW has worked with the FAA on a potential solution for the 5 end of the runway.  Earlier this year, the FAA made a change in its flight procedures for Runway 5 in January without initially taking into account that the EMAS project was not yet finished.  While FAA originally told Yeager these procedures would not be fixed until June, Senator Manchin spoke with Acting Administrator Elwell both flight procedures for the runway were restored. 
  • Yeager was recently told that in order to fully restore the approaches after the completion of the EMAS project, another flight check was needed.  Not only that, but Yeager would have to apply for additional funding before the flight check could take place – a process that could take months.  However, after Senator Manchin and his staff spoke to officials at the U.S. Department of Transportation and the FAA, including Jennifer Solomon, the Eastern Regional Administrator for the FAA, in July, the FAA reversed its position, and the flight check took place as planned, allowing the Runway to enter back into operational use.
  • This FEMA grant is the final portion of funding for Yeager Airport to recover from the runway collapse.  The $3.19 million grant from FEMA (which includes a match from the state for a total of $4.25 million) reimburses the airport for the cleanup of the debris caused by the collapse.  This grant was initially denied, but the Airport appealed the decision, with Senator Manchin continuing to push FEMA provide this funding to the Airport in a timely manner.  After 4 long years, that has finally taken place.