Joint teams from the state and federal emergency management agencies are out in 29 Iowa counties assessing the damage caused by the most recent ice storm. State Emergency Management Division administrator, David Miller, says they’re looking at public damages — damages to public utilities and the rural co-ps.
They are also looking at emergency response and debris removal costs, to determine if there’s a level of damage to support a request by the governor for a federal disaster declaration. Miller says while thousands of Iowans were left without power during the storm, the impact is not something that would warrant a disaster declaration for individual assistance.
Miller says uninsured loss is the thing that "pulls the trigger" on individual assistance, and while lots of Iowans were impacted by the outages, he says it’s probably not enough uninsured loss to get an individual federal disaster declaration. Miller says much of the individual damage in this storm was a tree limb falling on a home, or a power line ripped from a house.
He says those loses are certainly profound to individuals, but experience shows they are not the level of loses to warrant individual assistance. The ice storms this year were more widespread, but they also did not have the level of uninsured damage to lead to an individual federal disaster declaration. Miller says the individual declarations most often come after a flood.
Miller says a lot of people don’t carry flood insurance, and that leads to more uninsured losses. He says the flood earlier this year that impacted some four-thousand Iowans did a lot of damage by flooding basements, but there wasn’t a lot of structural damage to warrant an individual award. Miller says it will take a few days to complete the damage assessment.
They’re hoping to have the assessment completed by the end of this week and will then know if they have enough damage to seek the designation. Miller says all 29 counties may not be included if there is a declaration, and there may still be some counties that have to report damage that could get included. There were some 70,000 Iowans without power at the peak of the ice storm on December 11th and 12th.