Governor requests nearly $4B in federal disaster aid

Gov. Kim Reynolds is requesting almost $4 billion in federal disaster assistance to deal with the devastation of last week’s derecho, which destroyed or damaged an estimated 8,273 homes.CREDIT KCRG

By CBJ News Staff

Gov. Kim Reynolds has formally requested an expedited Presidential Major Disaster Declaration calling for almost $4 billion in aid to Iowa communities and counties hit hardest by the devastating derecho storm Monday, Aug. 10.

“From cities to farms, Iowans are hurting, many still have challenges with shelter, food, and power,” Ms. Reynolds said in a release Sunday evening. “Resilience is in our DNA, but we’re going to need a strong and timely federal response to support recovery efforts.”

Ms. Reynolds indicated President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have pledged their “full support” in recent conversations. Iowa is requesting an estimated $3,998,010,35 in federal dollars to recover from the unprecedented event.

The governor requested funding under the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Individual Assistance Program for 27 counties, including Benton, Cedar, Johnson, Jones, Linn and Washington counties in the Corridor. Individual Assistance Program funding provides disaster-impacted homeowners and businesses with programs and services to maximize recovery, including assistance with housing, personal property replacement, medical expenses and legal services.

Gov. Reynolds also requested funding under FEMA’s Public Assistance Program for the repair or replacement of public infrastructure and debris removal, for 16 counties, including Benton, Cedar, Johnson, Jones and Linn.

Work to develop the request letter began immediately following the severe storms and involved a multi-level approach led by the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Historically the department works with local officials to gather damage estimates that would be included in the request letter. In this instance, many local agencies are still responding to the impacts and have not been able to complete detailed damage estimates.

The governor asked the department to leverage technology as well as historical data to create the damage estimates found within the request letter. This allowed local agencies to continue to focus on immediate response needs while allowing the department to create the letter signed by the governor.

The damage estimates were generated by using photographs, aerial photography, and GIS analysis. The current estimate is 8,273 homes destroyed or suffering major damage. Additionally, it is estimated that $23.6 million of damage occurred to public public infrastructure with an additional $21.6 million in cost associated with removal and disposal of debris from the storm.

“While it is unconventional for a major disaster declaration request of this magnitude to be assembled and approved within a matter of days, it is essential that our request is expedited and approved as quickly as possible,” Ms. Reynolds said. CBJ