It appears officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency are doing all they can in Iowa to avoid the harsh criticism the agency received following the Katrina disaster in New Orleans. Chuck Chaffins is one of the top FEMA officials in Iowa helping the state recover from tornadoes and flooding. He spoke at a press conference this week in Des Moines. "I just want to convey to you that we will do everything within our power to give (Iowans) help in a timely manner and help in your recovery efforts," Chaffins said.
FEMA is sending trailer homes to Cedar Rapids and other flooded Iowa cities that need temporary housing. Chaffins says FEMA is also leading a debris removal task force that includes other federal and state agencies. "Because of the magnitude of the debris problem statewide, FEMA has mission assigned the Army Corps of Engineers to solicit and manage debris contractors in the event that local and state officials are overwhelmed to the point where they can’t manage this effort on their own," Chaffins said.
Eligible counties and the state can apply for FEMA grants that will help pay for debris removal. Chaffins says FEMA will pay for about 75 percent of the costs for removing garbage created by severe weather. Following the May 25 tornado that leveled Parkersburg, FEMA approved a 5.5 million dollar grant to help with debris removal.
The U.S. Senate Thursday night approved a bill that includes 2.65 billion dollars for Midwestern flood relief. About $897 million of that amount is allocated for FEMA. Other agencies receiving money to help with flood relief efforts include the Small Business Administration, the Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.