The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has reversed earlier rulings to now allow federal funds to be used to repair two flood-damaged lakes — including Lake Delhi, which drained dry when its dam collapsed in 2010.
Pat Hall, the Recovery Bureau Chief for the Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division, says state FEMA officials originally said the organizations that oversee the two lakes did not qualify for funding because they were not government entities.
The other lake is in the Lakewood community in Norwalk.
But Hall says the state was able to make the argument otherwise in the appeal. “Iowa code 357-E states that they are a political subdivision. They have their own board of directors, that they’re elected, and FEMA agreed with us. Upon further review, FEMA determined that both districts met the definition of a local government,” according to Hall.
Hall says it was gratifying to see the ruling. “We were quite pleased, we worked hard to make sure that whoever made the determination about eligibility was incorrect, and FEMA agreed with us,” Hall says.
The destruction of the Lake Delhi dam got a lot of attention and raised some controversy over whether government funds should be used to rebuild the private lake. But Hall says this appeal also included damage to both lakes in 2008.
He says the claims for 2008 for Lakewood and Lake Delhi were for repair damage done by siltation and debris during flooding. Hall says the Lakewood and the Lake Delhi recreational districts could each get millions in federal funding now that they’ve been qualified.
“I know for Lake Delhi for the 2008 event it was roughly eight million dollars, seven-point-eight-million dollars, and Lakewood Benefit Association was right about nine million dollars, that was the 2008 event,” Hall explains. “The 2010 event for Lake Delhi, I could not begin to guess, we have engineers that would make that determination,” Hall says.
Studies and paperwork now have to be completed to move the process ahead. “FEMA will come up and we will work with the applicant to determine what is the eligible scope of work and what FEMA will participate in,” Hall says. He says it could take two to three months to complete the application paperwork.
The Iowa Legislature approved setting aside $5-million in state gambling taxes over the next two years to help finance reconstruction of the Lake Delhi dam. The Delaware County Board of Supervisors approved backing a loan of up to $3-million to help rebuild the dam and refill the lake.
That supervisors’ vote came after some citizens raised concerns about spending public money on the private lake. One estimate says it will cost $12-million to complete the Lake Delhi project.