Supervisors ponder disaster funding

O’Brien County supervisor Tom Farnsworth and county emergency management agency coordinator Jared Johnson listen to Jason Bendixen of Jacobson-Westergard & Associates talk on Tuesday, July 10, about flood damage to Drainage District No. 5. Iowa may go for a federal disaster declaration in response to flooding that occurred throughout the state in June.

PRIMGHAR—Iowa government officials soon will decide whether or not to go for a federal disaster declaration in response to flooding and severe weather that occurred throughout the state in June.

That is what O’Brien County Emergency Management Agency coordinator Jared Johnson told the board of supervisors during their weekly meeting Tuesday, July 10, in Primghar.

“The end date for the June weather events — they’re saying July 2, so they have 30 days post that to decide whether to do a federal declaration,” Johnson said. “What they’re doing right now is they’re going to each county that has damages and they’re trying to get an estimation.”

After Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management officials collected disaster cost estimates from across the state, they will have to decide whether or not to send the total amount to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“Then FEMA might do their own estimation and then decide whether they’re going to do it or not,” Johnson said of a possible federal disaster declaration for Iowa.

Johnson said there were two weather events in June — one occurred from the beginning of the month until June 13 and the other happened from June 14 through the start of July.

“They’re looking at if they can merge them so that way they can merge the values from each of those events so that they can meet the state threshold,” he said.

Johnson said the threshold for the state of Iowa to meet for a federal disaster declaration is $4.4 million.

“That’s going to include Des Moines with their flooding,” said supervisor Tom Farnsworth. “That’ll push it over the top.”

Johnson said the state’s total threshold amount would depend on whether the damage values of Iowa’s two June weather events were merged into one.

Twenty-four of the state’s 99 counties — including Lyon, O’Brien, Osceola and Sioux counties — have been issued disaster proclamations by Gov. Kim Reynolds in response to flooding and severe weather beginning June 14 and continuing.

Seven other counties have been issued disaster proclamations by Reynolds in response to flooding and severe weather beginning June 7 and continuing.

The governor’s proclamations allow state resources to be utilized to respond to and recover from the effects of flooding and severe weather and activates the Iowa Individual Assistance Program, which helps low-income individuals and families in disaster areas pay for damages incurred.

“The individual assistance applications are still coming in,” Johnson said. “There have been a few questions that we’ve just worked with Upper Des Moines Opportunity to assist with, so people are still able to keep on working on those.”

The application deadline for the state’s individual assistance program is Thursday, Aug. 2, for O’Brien County, Monday, Aug. 6, for Lyon and Osceola counties, and Friday, Aug. 10, for Sioux County.

Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management officials have told Johnson that the state agency will not go for federal individual assistance.

“It is difficult to get that,” Johnson said. “Homes have to be pretty much completely destroyed and there has to be a certain number of destroyed homes in order for them to go for that.”