UPDATE: Flood meeting gives Northwest Iowa towns some hope
ROCK VALLEY, Iowa (KTIV) -
Leaders say the recovery effort has actually been harder than the flood itself, because they prepare for an immediate response, but they don't always have the answers in the aftermath."People think we know more than we do, and we don't. We're waiting for those answers,” explained Rock Rapids, Iowa Mayor Jason Chase.
"They want to get on with their lives and get constructing on their homes,” said Rock Valley’s mayor, Kevin Van Otterloo.
"How do you correct it? How do you benefit the people who are in need from it? Those are the questions that need to be answered. The answers come pretty slow,” explained Akron Mayor, Harold Higman.
Tuesday, state and federal officials shared resources to help get these towns back on their feet. A roundtable organized by Congressman Steve King drew leaders from Sioux, Lyon, and Plymouth County to Rock Valley, Iowa.
"Storm sewers, flood gates, raising levees, utility infrastructure. That's where our concerns is going to be focused,” said Higman.
While issues are more about infrastructure in Akron, it’s something different Rock Valley.
"It's the housing for the people who got hit,” said Van Otterloo.
With just 109 homes receiving major damage in nine counties, Iowa fell far short of the 581 home requirement to receive a federal disaster declaration to help individual property owners."
That doesn't mean there isn't help.
“The buyout to try to buyout some of the homes,” said Chase.
The state has also applied for that federal disaster declaration to get cities and counties some relief, and officials with Iowa's Homeland Security say they're confident they'll be approved in the next two to five weeks. Then, they can apply for grants and loans to help rebuild their towns. One program gives towns money to move homes that are in the flood plain.
"It solves the problem long-term. It's not if it will flood again, it's just a matter of time when,” explained Chase.
The USDA and Small Business Association give out loans to help with repairs.
"I think the SBA program. The low interest long-term loans are going to help a lot of the citizens,” Van Otterloo added.
Experts told leaders to look at the disaster as an opportunity. While they still don't have all the answers, they say the meeting gave them some direction of where they and their residents can turn.
The flood's cost is still being added up.
Sioux County's emergency manager estimates to total damage to bridges and roads to be $300,000.
Towns inundated by flood waters a few weeks ago have moved swiftly into recovery mode. Tuesday, they met with some key decision-makers to find out the next step in that process.
With just 109 homes in nine counties receiving major damage, Iowa fell far short of the 581 required for the federal government to step in to help individual home owners.
However, that doesn't mean there isn't support for those people.
Tuesday, leaders from Sioux, Lyon, and Plymouth County met with the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and other state officials to learn how they can get back on their feet.
Even though a Federal Disaster Declaration wasn't issued for individuals, the state has applied for one to get cities and counties some of those federal funds.
"I think we're within two to five weeks for the declaration for here, I think," stated Dennis Harper, IA Homeland Security Hazard Mitigation Bureau Chief, who ran Tuesday's meeting.
Harper said 56 counties have received state disaster declarations making them eligible for a federal declaration, and he believes all of them will receive some help.
Northwest IA Regional Housing Trust Fund www.nwipdc.org (income restrictions)
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