The governor’s office had to retract a statement or two he made at a morning news conference about news from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Iowa’s storm-damaged counties. FEMA’s Lew Wood wasn’t surprised. Wood says a lot of people have trouble understanding there are different kinds of federal disaster aid.There’s individual assistance, aimed at helping persons, households, renters, and even some small businesses, but public assistance means infrastructure. And that means the roads, public buildings, drinking-water systems and other public property that also suffers damage in a natural disaster. Originally when they made the first disaster declaration it was only individual assistance, but now 40 of the counties have been approved for infrastructure assistance, in all the seven categories. He says more and more counties that already were declared disaster areas have been approved for expanded kinds of aid, so not only residents but also the city, county and state government property that was damaged can be repaired. Wood says there are seven categories of public aid the federal program may cover for local governments. Category A is debris removal, B is emergency services to help pay back the costs for police, fire, first-responders and putting up things like warning barrier, and category C includes repairs to roads and bridges.D is water control like drainage, pumping and levee repair, E is public buildings and the contents, F means utility delivery systems from electric networks to water systems, and G includes public parks and facilities including playgrounds, swimming polls and cemeteries. Forty Iowa counties now qualify for both private aid and all seven categories of public assistance, with the federal government paying 75-percent of the cost and the other 25-percent to come from local governments.
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