Almost 40,000 Iowans applied for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency this year after the strong spring storms which spawned tornadoes and flooding; 85 of Iowa’s 99 counties were declared federal disaster areas.
Governor Chet Culver suggests life is far from normal in some areas of the state. "Cedar Rapids is now talking about a five- to 10-year plan — a $1 billion plan to essentially redesign the downtown area, so it’s going to be a matter of years. My focus is to get these families back on their feet, to get them into their old houses that need to be repaired, to get them in new house if their homes were destroyed. I want to get businesses back up and running as quickly as possible," Culver said recently on Iowa Public Television. "We can do a lot of that by this time next year."
It has been over six months since the flooding hit. According to the Rebuild Iowa Office that Culver established a few months later, over $1.3 billion in disaster assistance had already been forwarded to individuals and to different levels of government that were confronted with the costs of fighting flood waters and cleaning up afterwards. "We’ve come a long way. We’ve helped thousands of families, but we’ve got thousands more that are dealing with tough challenges," Culver said on IPTV. "So it’ll take some time to rebuild communities — years — but we can certainly rebuild one house at a time."
By mid-December, almost 5600 Iowans had applied for the state’s "JumpStart" program which offers grants that may be used for a downpayment on a new home or business — or be used to finance repairs on a flood-damaged home or business.