Marshalltown is the first city in the Midwest to try a new program that provides federal funds to local volunteer agencies to help residents hit by natural disasters.
Marshalltown City Administrator Jessica Kinser says the program is called Voluntary Agencies Leading and Organizing Repairs or VALOR.
“It’s a program that’s designed to assist households with emergency repairs to their homes as a way of providing some assistance and kind of a way to generally help get things moving forward with the repair process in our community for those that are uninsured or underinsured,” Kinser explains. Marshalltown was hit by a massive tornado in July that damages many homes and businesses. Kinser says the program will send FEMA money to the city to purchase materials to repair homes.
And that’s up to five-thousand dollars per household for materials only. So, it’s the city that’s actually ordering the materials, but we will have a close working relationship with our partner on this — which is Habbitat for Humanity of Central Iowa,” according to Kinser. She says they are in the process now of taking applications and determining how many people actually need some help.
“That’s something that we’re still trying to get our hands around, what exactly is that need?,” Kinser says. “We’ve identified more than 400 properties were we think that could come into play and could provide some assistance.” Getting repairs made to any of the homes in Marshalltown that were damaged has not been a quick process.
“Three months post-tornado now as you drive around Marshalltown you see those who have had insurance coverage finally getting to the point where work is beginning on their homes,” Kinser says, “so, it has really been a slow recovery process here and we’re really looking at this at being something that can come in and make some emergency repairs. It’s not going to pay for everything or do everything, but just get a household into a safe place and a safe position to make it through the winter.”
Kinser is hoping the get a better idea of where things stand as they get in applications for help.”We’ve had so many non-governmental organizations that have come to our community and expressed interest in helping. And so we see that there is a need out there — but we don’t know exactly how big it is — but we do want to through the VALOR program,” Kinser says.
To be eligible for temporary minor emergency repairs under the VALOR program, properties must be owner occupied or under contract for purchase and have sustained damage as the result of the July 19, 2018, tornado. Marshalltown residents may find out more information and apply for repair assistance by calling the Housing and Community Development Department at (641) 754-6583. Seventy-five percent of the funding for the VALOR Program is provided through FEMA. Iowa and Marshalltown will be responsible for providing the remaining 25% of the funding. The program was first authorized in Puerto Rico to assist residents impacted by Hurricane Maria.