The president approved a second winter storm-related federal disaster declaration Tuesday for Iowa. Iowa Emergency Management Division administrator David Miller says the first declaration included 21 counties involved in the storm that began December 23rd.
Miller says that declaration included counties that had record or near record snowfall, and it will give them some help in paying for the snow removal. The declaration will allow the covered counties to receive some federal money for overtime costs of snow removal.
Miller says it pays for small window of snow removal in a 48-hour continuous operation. He says it’s important in this storm as it stretched through the Christmas holiday and a lot of local governments incurred high overtime costs to remove that snow. Counties included in that declaration are: Adair, Audubon, Calhoun, Carroll, Cass, Cherokee, Clay, Crawford, Emmet, Franklin, Fremont, Guthrie, Harrison, Ida, Monona, Page, Pottawattamie, Sac, Shelby, Sioux and Woodbury. The second declaration covered the storm in the middle of January.
He says the difference in that January 19th storm from the December storm was that it was mostly ice damage, with a little snow. Miller says the private non-profit electric utilities, like rural electric coops and municipal utilities, will have most of the claims for this declaration as they seek to recover the cost of repairing the ice damage.
The counties covered under the second declaration are: Adair, Audubon, Calhoun, Carroll, Cass, Crawford, Guthrie, Harrison, Madison, Pottawattamie, Sac, and Shelby. Miller says the federal emergency funds will only pay a fraction of the costs in each of the disasters, but he says it will help.
Miller says the snow removal budgets for local and state budgets have been severely stretched and officials have had to look at moving things around in their budgets to continue removing the snow. “The snow part of the declaration will give them some assistance — but frankly I don’t think it will begin to really allow them to recover their true cost of snow removal from this historic winter,” Miller said. Miller did not have the entire cost estimates available on the two storms, but says it will be in the tens of millions of dollars.