Branstad requests presidential disaster declaration for 19 counties

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DES MOINES, Iowa – Gov. Terry Branstad has signed a letter to President Barack Obama requesting a presidential disaster declaration for public assistance after 19 counties sustained an estimated $22 million worth of damage from severe storms and flooding in September.

The counties included are: Allamakee, Benton, Black Hawk, Bremer, Buchanan, Butler, Cerro Gordo, Chickasaw, Clayton, Delaware, Des Moines, Fayette, Floyd, Franklin, Howard, Linn, Mitchell, Winneshiek and Wright, according to a news release from the Office of the Governor.

Branstad requested funding under FEMA’s Public Assistance Program, which is used to rebuild damaged infrastructure that may include roads, bridges, culverts and other public facilities, or to cover costs of emergency work and debris removal.

A joint federal, state, and local preliminary damage assessment of the 19 counties found the severe weather caused an estimated $22 million worth of damage that could be eligible under that program. Branstad also requested funding to conduct hazard mitigation activities statewide. You can read the full letter here.

This request does not include a request for the federal Individual Assistance Program, which provides assistance to homeowners, renters and businesses to pay for temporary housing, home repairs and other disaster-related expenses. On Oct. 5, the state of Iowa and FEMA completed a joint preliminary damage assessment for that program. That assessment indicated that the number of uninsured homes that suffered major damage or were destroyed during this event fell far below the FEMA threshold to request funding under the program.

Branstad focused efforts on obtaining a Small Business Administration disaster declaration to make low-interest loans available to impacted residents and businesses. The administration granted a declaration for Black Hawk, Bremer, Butler, Cerro Gordo, Chickasaw, Floyd, Franklin, Grundy, and Hardin counties. It has also opened a Disaster Loan Outreach Center in Butler County to assist residents in applying for loans.

Branstad also announced Friday that he’s created a flood recovery task force to address more needs of impacted residents.

“This task force has been established to help meet the unmet needs of those who have sustained damage from the recent flooding,” said Branstad. “Members of the task force will bring with them a number of resources and creative solutions to help communities and people rebuild their homes, businesses, and most importantly, their lives.”

The task force, which is comprised of state and local agencies, will focus on working with communities to develop long-term housing recovery options.

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