Spring Brings Money, Volunteers for Iowa Flood Recovery

DES MOINES, Iowa, February 20, 2009 (ENS) – Iowa Governor Chet Culver and Congressman Bruce Braley today announced that more than $5.1 million in federal and state funds has been identified and is in the final approval stage for two conservation related flood recovery projects in Iowa. These funds are part of the effort to help rebuild infrastructure following the historic floods of spring and summer 2008.

“Repairing our infrastructure after last years natural disasters means more than just roads and bridges. We must rebuild every facet of our state’s infrastructure, such as our conservation trails and bridges. These are essential to our state’s full recovery,” Governor Culver said. “I will continue to work with federal partners to ensure Iowans are aided in all aspects of the recovery effort.”

“I’m happy that northeast Iowa is receiving the resources needed to continue recovering from last year’s floods and tornados,” said Braley. “During these tough economic times, rebuilding Iowa’s infrastructure will save and create jobs right here in Iowa.”

One funding package would provide the Dubuque County Conservation Board with $2,957,400 to repair washouts to the Heritage trail surface between Cedar Ridge and Girl Scout Road.

Because of the governor’s actions to have FEMA fund 90 percent rather than the standard 75 percent of all recovery projects, the Board will save the 15 percent local match of $443,600. The remaining 10 percent of the project will come from state dollars.

The other funding package would provide the Black Hawk County Conservation Board with $2,230,000 to replace the Evansdale Bridge on the Cedar Valley Nature Trail. The 90 percent arrangement will save the agency $334,500.

These projects are part of an expected 10,600 projects that will be identified under the State and Federal Emergency Management Agency Public Assistance program designed to help public and some nonprofit agencies rebuild Iowa infrastructure and pay for response efforts.

Eligible entities in 84 counties qualify for public assistance under the state and FEMA program. To date, the state and FEMA have obligated more than $580 million in federal funds for public assistance for flood recovery projects in Iowa.

 Cedar Rapids resident stands before his flooded home. June 13, 2008. (Photo courtesy American Red Cross)

The state has allocated $20 million for recovery and reinvestment in the city of Cedar Rapids, which was hard hit by the 2008 floods. On February 2, Governor Culver signed the $56 million Rebuild Iowa Bill that expands the Jumpstart Housing Program, provides individual disaster grants and creates a community disaster grant program.

The bill earmarks $9.5 million for the Jumpstart Housing Program and sets aside $10.5 million for the other Cedar Rapids programs. Community Disaster Grant Funds can be used for land acquisition, public infrastruction repair and replacement, replacement housing, and assistance to small businesses and nonprofits.

The state is currently creating an application process, and the funds will not be available until after April 2009.

A different kind of flood cleanup help also is coming to the city of Cedar Rapids. The University of Iowa is organizing an alternative spring break service project to do post-flood cleanup in Cedar Rapids, joining hundreds of volunteers from high schools, colleges and church groups across Iowa and the nation.

Hundreds of homes in Cedar Rapids remain in poor condition after the floods so the volunteers will clean and refurbish these structures over spring break next month.

Volunteers will be assigned to work in groups of up to 10 in flood-affected areas of Cedar Rapids, said Sue Driscoll of the United Way of Eastern Iowa, who is coordinating several of the flood clean-up projects.

Driscoll said she expects help from the UI College of Law, Iowa State University, and Grinnell High School in Iowa, as well as groups from Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Stout, Wisconsin.

Among those planning to assist in the cleanup are University of Iowa President Sally Mason and her husband, Ken, as well as Tom Rocklin, interim vice president for student services and dean of students.

Mason said, “My husband Ken and I very much look forward to helping our neighbors in Cedar Rapids who were affected by last year’s flood. I encourage members of the UI community to spend a little or a lot of time over spring break helping people get back on their feet in this important way.”

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