Governor Branstad is asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to reconsider its denial of individual disaster assistance to Iowans impacted by Missouri River flooding this summer. FEMA, in early August, rejected Branstad’s request to activate the Individual Assistance program.
Pat Hall, with the Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division, notes the latest request includes an update on the amount of damage to homes. “We’re still disappointed that we did not get the declaration back in July, but we’re optimistic that we’ll be getting positive news from (FEMA),” Hall said.
In early July, state officials assessed 361 homes in western Iowa and labeled 41 as destroyed, 86 with major damage and 132 with minor damage. Hall said an assessment in late September increased those numbers. The update sent to FEMA shows 189 homes were destroyed, 161 with major damage and 416 with minor damage. The floodwaters just recently receded after surrounding many homes since June.
Hall hoped the first property damage assessment in July would bring FEMA dollars to flood victims sooner. “A lot of homes were isolated and we were concerned about the individuals who were out of their homes…they were paying their mortgage and paying rent (on temporary housing). So, we though it was the right thing to do,” Hall said.
The FEMA Individual Assistance program — for homeowners, renters and businesses — can include grants and low-interest loans to help pay for temporary housing, home repairs and other disaster-related expenses not covered by insurance or other aid programs. Halls said FEMA’s decision on the Governor’s request could come in a matter of a few days or possibly up to three weeks.