IOWA DERECHO 2020

More than 5,000 in Linn County register for FEMA aid for derecho damage

Linn is only Iowa area to receive a presidential disaster designation

Gov. Kim Reynolds (middle), Czech Village real estate investor Mary Kay Novak McGrath (right) and U.S. Small Business Ad
Gov. Kim Reynolds (middle), Czech Village real estate investor Mary Kay Novak McGrath (right) and U.S. Small Business Administration administrator Jovita Carranza (far right) tour small businesses in the Czech Village affected by the Aug. 10 derecho storm in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

JOHNSTON — Nearly 5,400 Iowans — including 5,143 people in Linn County — have registered for individual assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency due damage to homes and property caused by the Aug. 10 derecho that smacked Iowa, state officials said Thursday.

Linn County is the only area in Iowa that has received a presidential disaster designation, said Joyce Flinn, director of the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

An additional 17 counties completed their damage assessments Wednesday, Flinn said, with plans for the FEMA validation process to be completed this week. Nine counties withdrew “based on their inability to meet the threshold of about five properties with major or destroyed damage that are uninsured or underinsured.”

Based on the Aug. 20 presidential order, residents of Linn County can apply for FEMA individual assistance, which provides disaster-affected homeowners, renters and businesses with programs and services to maximize recovery. That includes assistance with housing, personal property replacement, medical expenses and legal services.

Individuals and business owners who sustained losses in the designated area can begin applying for assistance by calling 1-(800) 621-3362 or 1-(800) 462-7585 for TTY users, Flinn said.

The state also set up a “one-stop” website at disasterrecovery.iowa.gov to assist derecho-impacted Iowans.

Separately, state officials are looking to add eight counties to the original 16 counties where the governor requested FEMA public assistance funding for the repair or replacement of public infrastructure and debris removal, Flinn said.

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Reynolds’ initial request covered Benton, Boone, Cedar, Clinton, Dallas, Jasper, Johnson, Jones, Linn, Marshall, Muscatine, Polk, Poweshiek, Scott, Story and Tama counties. Flinn said assessment are underway in Greene, Grundy, Guthrie, Hardin, Iowa, Jackson, Keokuk and Warren counties for possible “add-on requests’ by the Sept. 16 deadline.

She said federal help is being sought to finance debris removal, emergency protective measures, roads and bridges, water-control facilities, buildings, utilities, and parks and recreational facilities damaged when destructive winds topping 100 mph swept through central and eastern Iowa.

Reynolds also has requested a federal agriculture secretary disaster declaration for 57 counties affected by the derecho, which would allow Iowa producers to access U.S. Department of Agriculture disaster programs.

Preliminary USDA estimates are that 3.57 million acres of corn and 2.5 million acres of soybeans were severely damaged by the storm in 36 hardest-hit counties for an estimated loss of $3.77 billion, with millions more acres affected to varying degrees.

In her Aug. 16 request for an expedited presidential major disaster declaration, Reynolds estimated Iowa communities would need nearly $4 billion in federal help to recover from the unprecedented derecho.

At that time, state officials estimated that at least 8,273 homes had been destroyed or sustained major damage at a cost estimated to be $82.7 million with another $23.6 million in estimated damage to public infrastructure, $21.6 million in costs associated with removal and disposal of debris from the storm and about $100 million in damage to private utilities.

Comments: (515) 243-7220; rod.boshart@thegazette.com

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