Federal flooding funds available

Jacob Lane · Wednesday, August 13, 2014
It's been more than a month since June 30 when a severe storm poured over six inches of rain in West Liberty, but now the town is able to apply for federal money.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that disaster aid is available in several Iowa counties, including Muscatine County.

"It enables jurisdictions to apply for funding accrued by flooding costs," said Muscatine County Emergency Management Director Matthew Shook. "It provides a percentage of payback to municipalities for damage to infrastructure."

Basically, the city of West Liberty can apply for funding to help ease the cost of water damage to its own infrastructure, such as the treatment plants and streets.

However, Shook added that this is not an end all solution to the problem, considering that, as a whole, the county was not as severely affected as other counties.

"Quite honestly in Muscatine County the dollar value for damage was extremely low," he added. "There's not going to be a large inflow of cash."

But, while Muscatine County may not be the worse for wear, West Liberty certainly bore the brunt of the storm. City Manager Lawrence McNaul estimates there has been around $153,000 in damage to the town discovered so far.

He expects to see that number rise, though right now it's too early to know by how much. West Liberty is still checking its own infrastructure for flooding damage.

"The worst damage is unknown," he said, "We believe it to be underground, but we'll know more later today."

McNaul was referring to a camera the city sent underground late on Tuesday, Aug. 12, to examine storm drains beneath Eighth and Fifth Streets near Wapsie Park, where flooding is believed to have overflowed and damaged a 20 foot section.

Storm drains also overflowed and were most likely damaged on Prairie Street while various curbs and gutters were washed away on Calhoun and Fifth Street.

To top it off, it's also believed that the filtration system at the pool in Kimberly Park was damaged. The city will know more in the weeks to come as it gets professionals to examine the pool and city streets.

However, McNaul will be attending a meeting on Thursday in Johnson County to determine how much federal funding West Liberty will receive, as well as how to best use it.

He said that it will go towards flood recovery and mitigation, in order to not only clean up the town but to help prevent another flooding disaster.

FEMA is offering funding to several other Iowa counties besides Muscatine, including Black Hawk, Butler, Cedar, Des Moines, Iowa, Jackson, Jasper, Johnson, Jones, Keokuk, Lee, Linn, Mahaska, Poweshiek, Tama and Washington counties.      

It's no small number of counties lining up to receive aid from FEMA.

According to a press release, "The President's action makes federal funding available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities."

And so, even though intense flooding occurred more than a month ago, West Liberty still awaits a final answer on total damage and total aid it will receive.
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