Flood recovery is a long, expensive work in progress.
Six months after rain-swollen rivers and streams gushed through streets, homes and farm fields in parts of Nebraska and western Iowa, new numbers released by the Federal Emergency Management Agency show what progress has been made and how much state and federal money has gone to flood-affected communities.
Since a disaster declaration was made on March 21, residents and public entities in 80 counties and five tribal nations in Nebraska have become eligible for FEMA assistance.
As of Sept. 16, just under 7,000 people have applied for individual assistance, and $26.3 million in funding has been approved, including $23.4 million for housing assistance and $2.85 million for other disaster-related costs. FEMA grants do not have to be repaid.
FEMA has also received 510 reimbursement requests from local, county and state government agencies to fix damage to public facilities. More than $3.4 million in public assistance aid has been approved, plus more for debris removal and other costs incurred from flooding.
The Small Business Administration has approved $45.9 million in low-interest loans. That breaks down to about $38 million to homeowners and renters and $7.2 million for businesses and private nonprofits in Nebraska that sustained flood damage. This aid does have to be repaid.
Flood insurance payouts
By mid-September, the National Flood Insurance Program received 1,144 flood insurance claims in Nebraska and paid out $46.3 million to policyholders. When the record-breaking flooding happened, just over 8,500 Nebraskans, and a similar number of Iowans, had flood insurance policies — a fraction of the people likely affected.
Help for farmers and ranchers
Flooding drowned cattle, dumped sand on farm fields and caused some farmers to delay or even skip planting. The U.S. Department of Agriculture removed more than 1,200 livestock carcasses at 109 sites, and its Emergency Conservation Fund is paying out $13.7 million to 2,709 farmers and ranchers.
Nebraska is expected to receive $68 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation to repair roads and bridges mangled in March, plus another $1 million for damage related to storms in June 2018.
Volunteers from national disaster recovery groups like the American Red Cross, AmeriCorps and Southern Baptist Disaster Relief have logged more than 20,000 volunteer hours and helped clean out more than 700 flooded homes, to say nothing of the assistance provided by local churches, food banks, nonprofits and ordinary citizens.