The City of Omaha and other government agencies have spent millions of dollars this year staving off Missouri River floodwaters.
On Friday they learned that federal money to reimburse some of those costs will be coming into Nebraska.
President Barack Obama authorized disaster declarations for parts of Nebraska affected by flooding from May 24 to Aug. 1 and for those areas affected by storms that occurred June 19 to 21.
Gov. Dave Heineman was notified of the decision by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Obama had declared a flood emergency in Nebraska on June 18.
“The city has been working strongly to get reimbursement, and we were elated it came through,” said Aida Amoura, spokeswoman for Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle. “This is good for Omaha's citizens because it helps pay the expenses for fighting the flood.”
Omaha has spent more than $5 million fighting the flood, Amoura said.
The Omaha Public Power District this week put its flood costs at $44.5 million, and the Omaha Airport Authority has estimated it will cost $26 million to protect Eppley Airfield.
Al Berndt, assistant director of the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, said the disaster declaration is “much appreciated and needed.”
“This public assistance will help our local communities recover some of the costs associated with responding to the emergency situations and rebuilding public infrastructure damaged by this disaster,” he said.
The disaster declaration also will allow federal emergency funding for some nonprofit organizations.
Just last week, FEMA denied individual assistance to Iowa home and business owners in five counties affected by the flooding. Gov. Terry Branstad has said he will appeal that decision, and on Friday he asked for extra time to do so.
Nebraska officials plan to meet with local FEMA representatives on Monday to establish the schedule for meetings and briefings in assistance-approved counties.
Berndt said staff will study and determine the eligible cost expenses and submit estimates for review. The initial process could take three to four months, he said.
Federal taxpayers generally cover 75 percent of the eligible reimbursement cost, with the rest split between state and local taxpayers, Berndt said.
Theoretically there is no cap on the amount of money that could be reimbursed by the federal government, he said. It all depends on the eligible expenditures.
Property owners who live in the individual assistance-approved counties can submit requests for help on FEMA's website beginning next week.
FEMA indicated that other Nebraska counties may be added to the disaster declaration as additional flooding assessments are compiled.
Contact the writer: