Hundreds of Iowans have spent several weeks away from their flooded homes along the Missouri River and it’ll likely be another month or two before waters recede and they can get back in to access the damage. Margaret Van Ginkel, with Iowa State University Extension, has been meeting with flood victims in western Iowa.
“People are stressed out. Maybe they’re camping in a campground, or they’re living with another family, they’re traveling a longer distance to work or they’re unemployed…we’re just hearing there’s a lot of stress out there,” Van Ginkel said.
The I.S.U. Extension website includes a long list of resources and links on dealing with stress, financial concerns and flood clean up.
Van Ginkel says her top tip is keep complete records of all flood related purchases. “If you (have) any expenses because of the flood, keep track of those receipts and any information for your insurance company,” Van Ginkel said. “We don’t know if FEMA will grant individual assistance or not, but you need to have receipts and records.”
Teams started conducting damage assessments along the Missouri River last week. State officials plan to use the data to seek federal funding to assist Iowans in repairing or rebuilding their homes. That funding, however, may not arrive for months and many flood victims are already falling behind on bills. Van Ginkel is encouraging people to call their creditors.
She says mortgage lenders and others may be willing to work out new terms or deferred payment plans. Van Ginkel is coordinator of the Iowa Concern Hotline – a toll free number Iowans can call for help in dealing with stress and loss in times of disaster. That number is 800-447-1985.
Van Ginkel says the hotline’s operators have fielded more than 1,400 calls related to the Missouri River flooding over the last month.