Almost 1,200 flood victims seek grants for 'unmet needs'

Nearly 1,200 flood victims have applied for city grants of up to $10,000 to help cover costs for personal possessions lost in the June 2008 flood.

The city began follow-up contacts with applicants this week and Drew Westberg, special assistant to the city manager, expects processing of applications to accelerate next week.

That’s welcome news to Sandra Etter. Her house on Second Street SW had a foot of water on the first floor – “just enough to ruin everything,” she said.

“I filled out the application the day it came out, but then I haven’t heard anything,” Etter said.

Westberg expects applicants to be contacted in the next couple of weeks to verify information or to schedule appointments to process their applications.

Etter’s hoping to receive the full $10,000 “or anything” to help cover the damage from the flood. Her house has been restored and she’s living there again.

As of July 22, Westberg had 1,167 applications. The city anticipates as many 1,400 households will apply for the benefit in a program the City Council says is intended to cover “unmet needs” not covered by other flood-recovery payments. There is no deadline for applications.

The council estimates that it could spend up to $10.5 million on the program, money which will come from the $80 million expected to be brought in for flood-related matters over 63 months from the city’s 1-percent local-option sales tax.

The unmet-needs program is open to those who owned or were buying their home when the flood damaged it in 2008. Recipients must have received previous federal flood-recovery funds to qualify.

Applicants could begin receiving grants in August, Westberg said. The check-writing could take at least a couple of months.

“We’re not going to be able to get through all 1,100 in Week One,” he said.Qualified households can receive applications at and at the temporary City Hall, 3851 River Ridge Dr. NE, the Community Recovery Center, 220 Sixth St. NW, and the Neighborhood Resource Center at St. Wenceslaus Church, 510 16th Ave. SE.