CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa -- Less than two weeks after 13 Iowa counties were declared a disaster area, recovery is well underway. Federal and state programs are in place, personnel are in the field assessing damage, and planning for prevention of future losses. Checks are being sent to storm victims who have applied for disaster assistance.
The 11 counties in northeast Iowa were made eligible for an array of federal and state disaster assistance when President Clinton issued a disaster declaration on May 21 after storms and flooding struck the area May 16-29. The affected counties in northeast Iowa are Black Hawk, Bremer, Buchanan, Butler, Clayton, Clinton, Delaware, Dubuque, Fayette, Jones, and Linn. These counties are eligible for both individual assistance for homeowners, renters, and business owners, and for public assistance for local governments to repair damaged public facilities.
Residents of flood-stricken areas may wonder who all the officials are who have come to inspect damages.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) sends Community Relations field officers to visit local officials in storm-damaged communities to distribute information on programs available and the methods of applying for aid. They sometimes go door-to-door in affected neighborhoods to distribute vital disaster assistance information.
FEMA also sends contract inspectors to verify losses within seven to 10 days after a storm victim calls the toll-free registration number to apply for assistance. These inspectors call for an appointment. A quality control inspector may come after the contract inspectors to be sure the work is accurate and timely.
The Iowa Emergency Management Division (IEMD) assists local jurisdictions by facilitating and coordinating health and safety inspections of buildings in flood-stricken areas to determine their habitability. These are ONLY health and safety inspections and ARE MANAGED BY THE LOCAL JURISDICTION. All placards placed on a home by the health and safety inspection teams will have a local contact person and telephone number listed on the bottom of the placard. Residents with any questions should call that local number.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) sends loss verifiers to inspect the damaged property of those who have submitted completed loan applications. The verifier will make an appointment with the applicant to inspect the property and verify losses. These verification visits are part of the application process.
All state and federal personnel have official photo identification badges and do not charge for inspections.
Five temporary Disaster Recovery Centers have opened to further aid victims of storms and flooding. They are open Monday through Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Closed on Sunday. They are located in:
- Dunkerton, 509 S. Canfield (behind the school)
- Dubuque, 405 Main Street (in the basement)
- Fayette, Clark & North Streets (in the Methodist Church)
- Independence, Highway 150 North (in the Falcon Civic Center)
- Volga, 507 Washington Street (in the Civic Center)
The 11 northeast Iowa counties are also eligible for FEMA's Public Assistance Program. Under this program, governmental entities and qualified non profit organizations (applicants) can apply for reimbursement of eligible costs associated with debris removal, emergency protective measures, and repairing or replacing damaged public facilities. Federal funds will pay 75 percent of the costs of eligible approved projects. The State of Iowa will pay 10 percent and the applicant the remaining 15 percent.
The first step toward providing assistance to communities is holding briefings for applicants to explain the application process. Five briefings have been held so far.
After the applicant briefings, FEMA...