Governor Chet Culver is sending two letters to President Obama, asking for federal help for areas of the state that have been blasted with hazardous wintry weather. “The winter of 2009/2010 has already been historically severe with the highest snowfall totals in December and January since the late 1800s,” Culver says.
If the president approves the governor’s request, the federal aid would help Rural Electric Cooperatives and small, municipally-owned utilities that were hard-hit by the January 19th ice storm as well as the snow storm that struck the week of Christmas. Dave Miller is administrator of the Iowa Emergency Management division.
“This process is not over,” Miller says. “It’s just beginning on the recovery side.” Initial state estimates indicate this month’s ice storm caused at least 26 million dollars in damage. The storm storm that hit at Christmas time caused another 12 million in damage. There are currently 400 households which lost electricity during the ice storm that are without power yet today.
Miller says it’s been difficult to reach some of the remote areas where those households are located. “What we were finding from the utility companies, because of the road conditions, in some cases they couldn’t get to the downed poles, The Department of Transportation has helped that. More importantly, local county engineers have used their equipment to help get that access,” Miller says. “But this ‘last mile’ stuff takes a while.”
It could be early next week before all those homes have power restored, according to Miller. If the president does grant a federal disaster declaration for areas of the state which have been hit by these two storms, some smaller cities could get help in covering the costs of debris removal. Federal aid for snow removal, however, is rarely granted.
Listen to all of what the governor and Miller had to say today here: Culver, Miller 15:46 MP3