Des Moines, Iowa -- When City of Ottumwa officials were dealing with debris removal in the aftermath of the historic floods of 2008, city officials applied to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for help with the costs.
When part of the Great Western Trail in Warren County was washed out by the floods of 2008, the Warren County Conservation Board applied to FEMA for assistance in repairing the trail.
Those projects are just two examples of “small projects” that received funding under FEMA’s Public Assistance program and have helped the State of Iowa recover from the 2008 flooding. Small projects are those projects which cost less than $60,900.
FEMA has already obligated funds for 8,919 small projects totaling $106,214,210 to help with the recovery efforts in Iowa.
But what makes small projects truly unique is they are funded using initial estimated costs. Instead of waiting until documentation of the cost of the project had been submitted by the applicant before any funds are disbursed, the funds are made available as soon as a project worksheet for the particular project has been approved.
A project worksheet is a tool used by the applicant, the State and FEMA to develop projects and is the basis for Public Assistance program funding. Project worksheets contain the scope of eligible work necessary to repair the damage or perform emergency work and the estimated or actual costs necessary to complete the work.
“This really does speed up the recovery process,” said Iowa Recovery Center Director Kay Phillips. “It gets the funds into the hands of those who need it faster.”
Here is how FEMA’s small projects process works.
Damages are calculated and documented by either FEMA officials or the applicant. FEMA officials then identify the eligible related costs under the disaster grant program. The eligible damage costs are obligated and the federal share is provided to the State, which then awards the funds to the applicant.
In most disasters, FEMA provides 75 percent share of the total cost of the project, the State’s share is 10 percent and the applicant pays the remaining 15 percent. Because of the magnitude of the 2008 floods, there is a difference in the funding related to these damages. FEMA funds 90 percent of the project’s total cost, while the State funds 10 percent of the costs.
“Communities throughout Iowa are benefitting because they are able to quickly get the funding they need to repair and rebuild,” said State Coordinating Officer Patrick J. Hall.
The funding level for small projects is based on estimates. If the actual cost of the project significantly exceeds the estimated costs, the applicant may request supplemental funding by submitting an appeal through the State to FEMA.
As stated earlier, FEMA has funded nearly 9,000 small projects across Iowa. The City of Ottumwa received $50,795 in federal assistance to deal with debris removal costs, while the Warren County Conservation Board received $58,153 in federal assistance to repair the washed-out portion of the Great Western Trail.
Other examples of small projects FEMA has funded across the state include:
- Gravel road repair in Winneshiek County ($60,596)
- Replacing the contents of the Southeast Elementary School in the Waverly-Shell Rock School District ($50,883)
- Repair of roads, shoulders and ditches on the Sac and Fox Indian Reservation ($53,598)
- Debris removal in the parks in Muscatine ($51,455)
- Repairs to a concrete walking trail in Manchester ($54,567)
- Debris removal from a channel in Mahaska County as part of a Public Assistance pilot program ($54,571)
- Storm water blockages at bridges and culverts in Lyon County ($60,979)
- Bridge and road repairs in Fremont County ($60,803)