The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

July 7, 2013

Destroyed infrastructure to see federal funds

OTTUMWA — Back-to-back flash flooding has resulted in two presidential disaster declarations for the area, which will include funding for reconstruction efforts and hazard mitigation projects.

This week, 47 Iowa counties received a presidential disaster declaration. Ottumwa and Wapello County sustained damages after heavy rainfall in a short time span caused flash flooding the last week of May.

Wapello County Emergency Management coordinator Josh Stevens said the exact cost of damages from those storms is unknown, but preliminary figures show a bill between $400,000 and $500,000. April's flash flooding caused more than $1 million in damages in the county.

Now that Wapello County has received the disaster declaration, there will be an applicant briefing for the affected public entities. After that, a kickoff meeting with each individual entity will be held to discuss damages and needed projects, which is when funding will be determined.

"It's not a set number," he said. "All funding is based off the projects you have."

One federally-funded project is the reconstruction of 90th Street, a chunk of which was completely washed away during flash flooding on April 17.

From the most recent incident, 118th Avenue, Rock Bluff Road and Point Isabelle Bridge will likely receive funding, as all were heavily damaged during flash floods Memorial Day weekend.

"We definitely surpassed our pre-set thresholds statewide," Stevens said of the estimated $22 million in damages statewide between May 19 and June 23.

Wapello County previously received presidential disaster declarations during the 2010 and 2008 floods and the ice storm in 2007.

But public assistance is in no way related to individual assistance, Stevens said, which Wapello County did not receive.

Public assistance is for governmental entities and some private non-profit organizations, whose infrastructure sustained damages.

Individual assistance is for residents and their homes. Those damages can be ranked as minor, affected but habitable, major or destroyed.

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