Say the words "homeland security" and most people will think about an agency that protects citizens from terrorist attacks. But for West Virginia's state government, the term has come to mean any activity that protects the population from disaster or its aftermath.
According to The Associated Press, since 1999, the state has received $52 million for homeland security-type activities. And far from being deceitful, state officials say they've always been up front about how the cash would be used.
Randy Coleman, deputy security for the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, told AP that the materials purchased with federal funds were never intended to just sit in storage awaiting a terrorist attack.
Instead, Coleman said, the state government is ready to deploy them in response to floods and other natural disasters.
For example, during flooding earlier this month, the state Office of Emergency Services opened a 10,000-square-foot warehouse in Big Chimney, anticipating that rescue workers might need a medical triage center or a mobile-command center.