By John Speer
Central Iowa Press
"We are pleased to have this process started and look forward to working with FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and Iowa Homeland Security while continuing to work with all of our local authorities," Ryan Currens said last Thursday. Currens, Tama County Emergency Management coordinator, was referring to the meeting his office hosted in Toledo the day before (Aug. 31) for public officials from Tama and Benton counties.
Following a meeting with representatives of FEMA and Iowa Homeland Security in the supervisors’ board room on Wednesday, Aug. 31. President Obama declared Tama and six other Iowa counties disaster areas in the wake of 100-plus mph straight-line winds which hit the area on July 11. Among those on hand were (l-r) Supervisors Larry Vest, Kendall Jordan and Dan Wilkens, Sheriff Dennis Kucera, Conservation Board Executive Director Bob Etzel, Maintenence Supervisor Dirk Henle and County Engineer Lyle Brehm. (Seated, l-r) Assistant to the engineer Susan Jones, Tama County Emergency Management Coordinator Ryan Currens and his assistant, Julie Vokoun. Chelsea Mayor Roger Ochs is in the foreground, right.
Central Iowa Press/John Speer
It came a week after President Obama declared Tama and four other central Iowa counties disaster areas as the result of the straight-line derecho wind storm which hit the area in the early morning hours of July 11.
The crowd spilled into the hallway of the Supervisors meeting room in the Tama County Administration Building in Toledo for the afternoon briefing.
They heard an outline of procedures to tap federal and state aid to repair damages to public property. Cities and farmsteads across central Iowa were hit with sustained winds of 100-plus miles per hour.
Damage ranged from trees uprooted, crops flattened to the destruction of homes, farm and business buildings and the fire station and city hall at Clutier. Massive grain storage bins at elevators in Garwin, Clutier and Dysart suffered extensive damage as did the Garwin City Park and post offices in Clutier and Garwin. County-owned Otter Creek Lake and Park suffered major damage.
Officials continue to express their thankfulness no lives were lost during the storm.
Reports surfaced last week FEMA funds were in short supply due to costs from a series of natural disasters across the U.S. But federal and state officials on Wednesday expressed optimism money would be available to aid local government recovery efforts.
It was noted the new budget year for the federal government starts Oct. 1. National Public Radio reported last week the U.S. House has already approved a measure to put an additional $1 billion in the disaster relief fund for this year, and some $2.65 billion for next year.
in addition, the State of Iowa provides some disaster relief funding in addition to what is provided in in-kind services.
However, there will be no FEMA money to aid personal claims locally.
Currens, county Emergency Management coordinator, said, "Unfortunately our disaster district did not meet the state's established damage threshold for a Federal Private Property declaration. Fortunately we have had quite a few Tama County residents completing application to take advantage of the Iowa Individual Assistance Program."
Currens said about 10 additional applications for assistance have recently been received.
There are also programs through the federal Farm Service agency and Small Business Administration offering assistance.