REGIONAL—President Donald Trump issued a major disaster declaration Saturday, March 23, for 56 Iowa counties that have been severely impacted by recent flooding across the state.

The federal declaration — which includes Lyon, O’Brien, Osceola and Sioux counties — makes assistance available to homeowners, renters, businesses, public entities and select nonprofit organizations.

The projected economic impact to the state of Iowa in the areas affected by the flooding that started on March 13 is $1.6 billion.

Iowa easily qualified for the federal declaration because the cost of damage caused by the recent flooding surpassed its statewide per-capita threshold of $4,569,532.

Gov. Kim Reynolds said the “an­­nouncement from President Trump approving our emergency declaration will be instrumental to Iowa’s recovery.”

“We are incredibly grateful for the president’s consistent and timely action in the face of disaster,” Reynolds said. “The road to recovery will be long, but it’s clear that Iowans will have the resources we need to rebuild.”

The 56 Iowa counties listed in the declaration are eligible to apply for emergency work and emergency protective measures funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Public Assistance Program.

The Public Assistance Program puts into motion long-term federal recovery programs to help public entities and select nonprofit organizations.

O’Brien County Emergency Management Agency coordinator Jared Johnson did not have a final damage total for the county yet.

However, he said the final damage cost will easily surpass the county’s $54,424.44 per-capita threshold.

“The next step for us is doing more defined local damage assessments to see what’s going on,” Johnson said. “This flood impacted a lot of counties.”

He noted that many of the county’s gravel roads and parks as well as cities in the county were impacted by the recent flooding.

“The guys have been busy trying to repair roads,” Johnson said of the county’s secondary roads department. “A lot of the gravel roads are very soft.”

He noted he does have a couple thousand sandbags left over from the recent flooding that are available for future incidents.

Twenty of the 56 Iowa counties listed in the federal declaration — including Lyon and Sioux counties — are eligible to apply for additional assistance for permanent work through the Public Assistance Program. That includes the replacement or repair of disaster-damaged facilities such as roads, bridges and public buildings.

Lyon County’s per-capita threshold is $43,776.18 and Osceola County’s per-capita threshold is $24,426.36.

Like Johnson, Sioux County Emergency Management Agency coordinator Nate Huizenga did not have a final damage total for the county yet.

However, he is confident that the final damage cost will easily surpass the county’s $127,401.12 per-capita threshold.

“The primary damage we had was public assistance,” Huizenga said. “That includes things like roadways, damages that cities have to infrastructure or protective measures that cities take to berm certain areas from water. That’s what we are approved for at this point.”

Like O’Brien County, many of Sioux County’s gravel roads and parks as well as cities in the county were impacted by the recent flooding.

Huizenga expects that officials from FEMA and Iowa Homeland Security & Emergency Management soon will be in N’West Iowa to meet with EMA coordinators and tour flood-damaged areas in person.

“They’ll come in and start assessing damages and approving projects,” Huizenga said.


PUBLIC HEALTH DISASTER:

Gov. Kim Reynolds has signed a proclamation for a public health disaster emergency for the state of Iowa as a result of the widespread flooding and flash flooding that began on March 13 and continues.

In addition to authorizing the Iowa Department of Public Health to take necessary action to protect the public’s health, the proclamation provides for the mobilization of public health response teams.

“Local resources and capabilities are quickly becoming overwhelmed,” Reynolds said. “Authorizing the mobilization of public health response teams will ease that burden as this emergency event continues.”

Members of public health re­­sponse teams are volunteers from health-care institutions, local public health and environmental agencies, county medical examiner’s offices, private industry, the state medical examiner’s office and state public health staff.

The public health response teams have been an important part of the public health response system since the first team was established in 2003.

“Gov. Reynolds’ proclamation will give the department more flexibility to respond to public health emergencies as needed,” said Gerd Clabaugh, the director of the Iowa Department of Public Health. “Our staff and trained volunteers are ready to respond to and help affected Iowans recover from the floods.”

For more information, visit idph.iowa.gov/flooding.