Officials in Pottawattamie County have invited state officials to help determine whether last week’s storm caused sufficient damage to receive a presidential disaster declaration for federal assistance.The Council Bluffs Daily NonPareil reports the cost of the June 3rd storm – which included a tornado that struck three miles of farmland outside Oakland – was estimated at $4.2 million as of Monday. That estimate was reached by the cities of Oakland and Council Bluffs along with the county’s estimate for damage to county highways.
Pottawattamie County Emergency Management Director Doug Reed said the county is on the “bubble” to qualify for federal aid. Govermor Terry Branstad and the county have already issued emergency declarations in the wake of the storm, which saw straight-line winds in excess of 90 mph and the brief touchdown of an EF-2 tornado west of Oakland. Reed said the cost estimate might increase by a few hundred thousand dollars as further inspections take place by disaster assessors, insurance adjustors and those determining the scope of recovery projects.
Teams from Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management’s Recovery Division will join the Pottawattamie County Emergency Management Agency and local officials, beginning today, to validate the storm damage estimates. If the county qualifies and receives a presidential declaration, triggering the FEMA Public Assistance Program, local governments and state agencies would be able to recover some of the costs for protective measures, debris removal and public property and infrastructure repair.
The county is unlikely to meet the requirements for FEMA’s Individual Assistance Program, which would provide direct support to residents whose property was damaged or destroyed in the storm. However, the Iowa Individual Assistance Program – available to residents of Pottawattamie, Cass, Harrison, Montgomery and Ringgold counties – is offering grants of up to $5,000 to families who earn incomes at or below twice the federal poverty index, which is $39,580 for a family of three.
To determine eligibility or to apply for the program, residents of those counties should call the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services at (866) 434-4692 or click the “Disaster Assistance” link at www.dhs.iowa.gov.
Anyone who needs assistance with storm recovery also is encouraged to call the American Red Cross 2014 Storm Information Hotline at (712) 322-4017 ext. 4804 to speak with a disaster caseworker, who can identify resources and organizations able to provide assistance based on individual needs. The Red Cross hotline is available weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Those seeking reimbursement through the state should keep original receipts for expenses related to storm recovery.