Frustrations over flood recovery funding - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Frustrations over flood recovery funding

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

Frustrations are rising for some people in the Dubuque area, just one week after flood waters receded.

People who suffered devastating flood damage are wondering when funding will become available.

Karen Flogel's Durango home got more than five feet of water in her finished basement, shifting a pole that supports her living room and requiring the removal of drywall and carpeting.

"It just makes you feel kind of helpless," she said.

She said all the damage means her home now poses safety and health hazards to her six children.

Her family is not alone. Homeowners throughout Dubuque County and Jo Daviess County, Ill. are looking for funding to repair property and move on with their lives.

While some people look to the Salvation Army and Red Cross, those organizations can only do so much at this point. Workers there say they deal with flood victims' immediate needs, such as food, water and shelter on the first few nights following a disaster. For longer-term needs, Project Concern in Dubuque can help connect folks with services and with funding.

Project Concern executive director Nancy Lewis said, "It's really important to call our agency and get on a list, tell us what their situation is, so that we can reach out and help."

She said starting next week, the Iowa Department of Human Services will begin the Individual Disaster Assistance Grant Program in Dubuque County. People at twice the federal poverty level can apply for funding.

FEMA representatives toured the storm damage in the area this week and will submit their Preliminary Damage Assessment to the Iowa Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. It will go from there to Governor Branstad, who will pass it on to President Obama. If the president signs the disaster declaration, authorizing FEMA to issue the county a federal disaster declaration, federal dollars will become available.

Hearing a yea or nay from FEMA could take up to six to eight weeks, a spokesperson said.

"The FEMA declaration is kind of the first step to long-term recovery," Lewis said, "so, in between now and then, they need to do what they can privately: reach out to contractors, plumbers."

She said the more people can document their damage and recovery, the better. That includes taking photos of the problems, getting copies of social security checks and proof of income.

"To keep copies of receipts. To get letters from their insurance company in terms of whether or not they're covered and how much and how much damage might not be covered, so that, by the time any assistance becomes available, they're a step ahead of the game," Lewis said.

Waiting for funds, however, can get expensive. Flogel and her family, with six kids - all under the age of nine, are paying out-of-pocket nightly for a hotel in Dubuque.

"It's going to take a long time for us to get back in our home," Flogel said.

"Document everything. Keep copies of receipts, because some of that is reimbursable," Lewis said.

Until then, affected families can call or visit project concern for guidance. The non-profit is located at 1789 Elm Street in Dubuque and can be reached by calling either 2-1-1 or (563) 588-3980.

To date, the Red Cross has handed out 250 clean-up kits and nearly 10,000 bottles of water in the Dubuque area. Volunteers have also distributed 300 gallons of bleach and numerous blankets, snacks and garbage bags.

Dubuque Salvation Army volunteers have been visiting flood-damaged areas, delivering water bottles, bags of ice and sandwiches.

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