FEMA reverses its decision to deny disaster benefits to northwest Iowa utilities
Gov. Terry E. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds announced on March 18, 2016, that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has reversed an earlier denial of disaster assistance to three rural electric cooperatives and one municipal utility in northwest Iowa.
“This is great news for the rural electric cooperatives and municipal utility that were affected by a terrible ice storm in 2013,” said Gov. Branstad. “I’m pleased to see FEMA’s willingness to listen to the appeal led by the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, who outlined the extensive damage suffered. I’d also like to thank our Iowa congressional delegation in assisting with this effort.”
An April 2013 ice storm caused millions of dollars in damage to electrical utility lines in five Iowa counties: Dickinson, Lyon, O’Brien, Osceola and Sioux. The damage was so extensive that a Presidential Disaster Declaration was issued on May 6, 2013. On Aug. 30, 2013, FEMA denied the request for funding in the amount of $19 million to restore downed utility lines in those counties. In issuing the denial, FEMA initially said the utilities did not conduct comprehensive laboratory testing to verify the damage was a direct result of the disaster.
On Dec. 24, 2013, the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEMD) submitted an appeal to FEMA, asking for reconsideration of their denial of funding for the impacted rural electric cooperatives. HSEMD filed the appeal in conjunction with Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative, Lyon Rural Electric Cooperative, Osceola Electric Cooperative, and Sanborn Electric and Telecommunications Utility. That appeal was denied in April 2015 and in August 2015, HSEMD submitted a second appeal. By granting this second appeal, federal Public Assistance funding will be able to be used to replace conductors on the applicants’ electrical distribution systems.
“After originally denying funding, I am pleased to hear that FEMA listened to the concerns of Iowans and have reversed their original decision, which will go a long way to aiding our three rural electric cooperatives and one municipal utility in Northwest Iowa,” said Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds. “The importance of today’s decision cannot be undervalued.”
Chuck Soderberg, executive vice president of the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives, added, “We are thankful to Gov. Branstad, Lt. Gov. Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for submitting the second appeal to FEMA. This funding is greatly needed to the three electric co-ops that were affected and now they can continue providing reliable and affordable power to their member-owners.”
State of Iowa receives $96.9 million HUD grant
Jan. 22, 2016 - Gov. Terry E. Branstad has been notified that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has awarded Iowa $96.9 million for disaster resilience projects.
Through the National Disaster Resilience Competition, HUD has awarded the State $96.9 million to conduct a program to help Iowa communities recover from prior disasters and improve their ability to recover more quickly from future disasters. The award comes after a two-phase competition, during which several state and local agencies collaborated to create a program called the Iowa Watershed Approach (IWA). The IWA will accomplish six goals, including reducing flood risk, improving water quality, increasing resilience, engaging stakeholders, improving quality of life and health, and developing a program that can be replicated throughout the Midwest and the nation. The HUD National Disaster Resilience competition awarded nearly $1 billion to communities across the United States.
The agencies involved in the development of the HUD grant application are the office of Gov. Terry Branstad, Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA), Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEMD), Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS), Iowa Flood Center at the University of Iowa, Iowa Water Center at Iowa State University, and the City of Dubuque.
IEDA will be administering the grant award, which will include ensuring timely and successful completion of the program, monitoring Community Development Block Grant compliance, and making all final financial decisions.
HSEMD will provide technical support to implement the IWA and coordinate disaster preparedness and hazard mitigation activities. HSEMD Director Mark Schouten said the Iowa Watershed Approach will be consistent with other statewide programs in Iowa to reduce flooding and improve water quality. These programs include the Iowa Flood Mitigation Program, which has awarded funding to 10 communities to increase flood protection and prevention, and the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, that will lead to a measurable reduction of nutrients in our waterways.
Other agencies involved in implementation of the IWA will include the Iowa Flood Center, which, along with the City of Dubuque, will use their technical expertise and stakeholder connections to lead technical and programmatic implementation.
Links and Documents
- HUD press release
- Grant award fact sheet
- Award Q&A
- Map of Iowa watersheds included in the grant award
- Grant submission support letter
- Final (Phase 2) Application Documents
Applications now being accepted for 2016 HMA funding
The application period for the FY2016 Hazard Mitigation Assistance grant program is now open.
Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) grants are provided to eligible applicant states, tribes, and territories that, in turn, provide subgrants to local governments. The applicant selects and prioritizes applications developed and submitted to them by local jurisdictions to submit to FEMA for consideration of funding.
The two HMA sub-programs with open application periods are the Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) grant program and the Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) grant program. Applications for sub-grants are due May 13, 2016.
Click here to read more about these grants and the process of applying.
The role we all play in community safety
As the world continues its dialogue about the horrific events that unfolded in Paris on Nov. 13 and in San Bernadino on Dec. 2, old wounds are opened, reminding us of the tragedy of 9/11. Many again speculate if such a hostile event could happen here in Iowa, and also, what mechanisms are in place to ensure that they don’t?
The reality is, those who wish to do us harm are constantly plotting, planning for additional opportunities that may or may not come. So what are we as Americans–as Iowans–to do?
If you witness any type of suspicious activity, it is wise to report such activity to your local law enforcement agency. An alert public helps to keep our communties safe. Suspicious activity is any observed behavior that could indicate terrorism or terrorism-related crime. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Unusual items or situations. A vehicle is parked in an odd location, a package or some luggage is unattended, a window or door is open that is usually closed, or something else out of the ordinary.
- Eliciting information. A person questions individuals at a level beyond curiosity about a building’s purpose, operations, security procedures and/or personnel, shift changes, etc.
- Observation/surveillance. Someone pays unusual attention to facilities or buildings beyond a casual or professional interest. This includes extended loitering without explanation (particularly in concealed locations); unusual, repeated, and/or prolonged observation of a building (for example, with binoculars or video camera); taking notes or measurements; counting paces; sketching floor plans, etc.
While some of these activities may be innocent, it’s ultimately up to law enforcement to determine whether the behavior warrants investigation. Factors such as race, ethnicity, and/or religious affiliation are not suspicious. It is behavior, rather than appearance, that should be used in determining suspicious activity.
When reporting suspicious activity, remember to describe specifically what you observed, including:
- What or Who you saw
- When you saw it
- Where it occurred
- Why it is suspicious
It all boils down to one simple phrase: If you See Something, Say SomethingTM. Call 9-1-1, and notify your local law enforcement.
Police, security guards, and other officials cannot be everywhere, all the time. In the end it is up to all of us to protect our friends, our family, our neighbors, and the community as a whole.
Sign up for emergency notifications via Alert Iowa
Alert Iowa is a statewide mass notification and messaging system that is used by state and local officials to quickly send information to residents in counties that utilize the system. About 88 percent of Iowa counties have signed up to use the system since it was launched in October 2014, and 77 counties are actively sending alerts at this time.
Don't miss out on information that could save your life! Sign up to receive Alert Iowa messages today. The best way to receive alerts is by text message on your mobile phone. You don't need a smartphone to sign up for text alerts, but your cellular provider's message and data rates may apply. Watch the video below to learn more.
Bird flu links
Find out more about bird flu in Iowa, including how to protect flocks, frequently asked questions, fact sheets, brochures, and more.