Dubuque County seeking millions from FEMA - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque County seeking millions from FEMA


In light of FEMA funding availability, Dubuque County officials say they may seek more than $2 million in flood damage relief.

President Obama signed the disaster declaration Tuesday, allowing public entities in Dubuque and Jackson Counties affected by the July 27-29 storms and flooding to apply for relief.

The availability of these funds applies only to public entities, such as cities, counties and school districts.

Jonathan Brown is the manager of Dubuque's Water Pollution Control Plant. He said four of five of the facility's lift stations throughout the city were entirely flooded, putting the total amount of damage not covered by insurance between $250,000 and $550,000.

"We have resources that we can take care of our situations here and then go through the process of getting reimbursed from FEMA for that work that we're doing and will do," Brown said Wednesday, at one lift station. There, flood waters had reached nearly six feet in the building and knocked out its computer system, though Brown said the city got a secondary system up and running within hours.

In Dubuque County, six bridges are out, creating blocked roads and lengthy detours. They're part of an estimated $3 million to $4 million in flood damage, "Approximately two to three million of that possibly being FEMA reimbursable," county engineer Bret Wilkinson said.

Those dollars may be slowed by FEMA's funding freeze, however.

"It's going to be the more permanent work projects: the repair of the road, the repair of the bridges where we might see a funding problem, but it really depends on how long that funding freeze is," John Benson with Iowa Homeland Security said. "If it's done quickly, they won't notice a difference."

Regardless, the show must go on.

"We do plan on moving forward as fast as possible, and we'll deal with FEMA's issues as they come," Wilkinson said.

Dubuque County emergency management coordinator Tom Berger said it's almost a guarantee FEMA won't be issuing disaster relief for individuals, since there weren't enough houses damaged to meet the criteria. He said FEMA usually looks for about 250 houses with severe or complete damage, and only 35 homes in the affected area fell into that category. 600 area homes, total, however, received some amount of flood damage.

Individuals facing financial burden due to flood recovery can contact Project Concern in Dubuque. That's the organization that will distribute the funds raised by the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque for local victims of the late July storms and subsequent flooding.

So far, the foundation has raised more than $200,000, but that's just the tip of the iceberg as far as covering people's needs.

Those interesting in donating to the fund can text the word "Hero" to 27722 to give $10. Standard messages rates apply.

People can also contact the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque at 563.588.2700 or visit its Website.

As for East Dubuque, Ill. and Jo Daviess County, Ill., the request for the same kind of federal disaster relief for public entities is currently "under review" by FEMA officials. The Illinois governor has already signed off on the request. It's now in the hands of federal officials.

Jo Daviess County faces the same issue Jackson and Dubuque Counties did in regards to getting individual disaster relief from FEMA: not enough houses were severely damage to meet FEMA's criteria.

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