Iowa Governor Chet Culver declared five north-central and north-west Iowa counties state disasters areas a result of heavy rains that have produced flooding. The Governor’s disaster proclamation covers Boone, Humboldt, Palo Alto, Pocahontas, and Webster counties, and allows state resources to be used by local communities affected by the storm.
The proclamation also triggers Iowa’s new individual disaster assistance program for people with low incomes, allowing them to apply for a grants of up to $3,300 to help recover from flood damage. Governor Culver said he expects to tour the area sometime today or tomorrow to show his support.
"We’re very concerned, and want to do everything we can to be responsive, especially communities like Fort Dodge, Boone, and others that have been hit hard," Culver says. If you live in one of the counties, you can get information on applying for a grant from the Department of Human Services website . Look for the words "Summer Storm Help." Or you can call toll-free 877-937-3663 to find out more.
In Webster County, residents of at least 90 homes in Fort Dodge have been asked to evacuate, with the Des Moines River spilling out of it’s banks. Webster County spokesperson Penny Clayton says the river will keep rising, since rain is in the forecast through Friday.
"We have received considerable amounts of rainfall in the last couple days," Clayton says, "and the river level has risen to approximately four feet above flood stage." Fort Dodge city workers have been spending the day reinforcing a levee with large rocks and sandbags.
"We did have a couple of small breaches in the levy," Clayton says, "but those have been repaired by city crews." More heavy rainfall, perhaps an additional 1-2 inches, is expected tonight around northwest and northcentral Iowa.
The City of Cherokee had to scramble to install sump pumps into the storm drains after four inches of rain hit the city overnight. Cherokee County Emergency manager Aimee Barret says residents are also fighting the water in their individual homes.
Barret says the problem is spotty, and they’ve gotten flood cleanup kits and are making them available. She says there are other problems too. Barret says some county roads were wiped out, but everyone does have power. She says they’re concerned as the weather service is predicting another two inches of rain in the next 10 hours or so.
Mark Bruggom of KICD in Spencer also contributed to this story.