Des Moines, Iowa -- The Iowa floods of 2008 caused hundreds of millions of dollars of damage to state, county and city infrastructure, which includes roadways and public buildings.
In most cases, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) – through its Public Assistance program – will obligate funds for repair and restoration to bring back the damaged infrastructure to pre-disaster conditions.
A major Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division (HSEMD) and FEMA policy goal, however, is to – where it is cost effective – mitigate when restoring damaged infrastructure so the repaired facility is better able to withstand future disaster damages, under the Public Assistance program, this additional funding are also known as “406” funds.
In other words, a little extra money spent now may save untold funds later.
To date, FEMA has obligated more than $693.7 million for 12,473 Public Assistance projects across Iowa. HSEMD and FEMA officials determined that using 406 funds would be prudent for 1,628 projects and an additional $50.5 million has been obligated for those projects.
The scope of these mitigation projects ranges from small (a few thousand dollars) to large (hundreds of thousands of dollars).
For example, flood waters deposited an estimated 138,000-plus cubic yards of sand and silt in Lake Delhi near the town of Manchester, Iowa. FEMA obligated more than $4.1 million to remove the sediment from the lake’s water control facility.
The lake’s first sediment trap at the lake’s inlet captured 30,000 cubic yards of sediment as it was supposed to. An additional 20,000 cubic yards of sediment was deposited downstream of the inlet area. Engineers determined that more than 88,000 cubic yards of sediment overran the original trap, which accounted for nearly half the cost of restoring the engineered drainage channel.
Therefore, funds were obligated to reduce or confine widespread sediment deposits in future events by installing a 90,000 cubic yard sediment trap. The cost of this mitigation effort was $880,000. The State paid 25 percent of the mitigation cost with FEMA picking up the other 75 percent.
An example of a smaller mitigation project would be street repairs in Dyersville, Iowa.
Flood waters inundated the City of Dyersville four times in 2008 between May 25 and August 13, damaging over 605 feet of a city street.
FEMA obligated $667,718 to repair the section of street. However, an additional $16,521 was obligated to place a 4-inch drain tile approximately 16 inches below the asphalted surface on each side of the road. The drain tile was tied into the existing storm sewer system. Again, the State paid 25 percent of the mitigation costs with FEMA paying the other 75 percent.
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.