The flood-affected residents of five Iowa counties will be able to apply for federal disaster aid now that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has granted Iowa's appeal, Gov. Terry Branstad announced Tuesday.
People living in Fremont, Mills, Pottawattamie, Harrison and Monona Counties will be eligible to apply for FEMA's Individual Assistance Program, which provides stop-gap aid to homeowners, renters and businesses.
Nancy Boyd of rural Percival spent the summer living in a camper at Waubonsie State Park while her family farm was mostly surrounded by water.
Her family's furnace and water heater will need to be replaced, and federal aid might help.
As of last week, eligible Nebraska families had received an average of $5,056 in aid, Missourians an average of $3,938 and South Dakotans, $3,543.
“We'll get our receipts together … and we'll turn it in,” Boyd said. “I think a lot of people who have a lot more damage than we do — you know, major damage — it will help them a lot.”
Woodbury County was the only one of six Iowa counties along the Missouri River that did not receive the federal nod.
Gary Brown, the county's emergency management coordinator, said Tuesday evening that he did not know why.
Branstad spokesman Tim Albrecht told the Associated Press that FEMA gave no reason, but he said Woodbury did not sustain the damage the others did.
Woodbury County counted no permanent residences destroyed by flooding, Brown said. But the impact on local businesses was profound.
“I can tell you it wasn't for lack of groundwork,” he said. “Our community has been impacted … to the tune of $50 million.”
In addition to direct assistance for homeowners and renters, the FEMA Individual Assistance Program provides businesses access to low-interest loans.
Iowa's first run at individual assistance was denied. The state's July 18 application fell short of its own internal benchmarks for individual aid eligibility.
In its August denial, FEMA administrator Craig Fugate wrote Iowa officials that “the damage to the residences from this event was not of such severity and magnitude as to warrant … individual assistance.”
At the time, Iowa's tally of homes destroyed or sustaining major damage was 127. It also reported that 234 others had sustained lesser damage.
In the state's Oct. 6 appeal, Iowa reported 350 houses destroyed or having major damage. The total number of affected houses swelled to 975.
State officials, including Branstad, have said Iowa was initially denied because the state could not reach many of the damaged homes because of flooding.
John Benson, spokesman for Iowa Homeland Security, has said Iowans could begin receiving federal checks by the end of October.
World-Herald staff writer Nancy Gaarder contributed to this report.
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