Emergency management asking residents, business owners to report tornado damage

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Two weeks after an EF-1 tornado ripped through McGregor, leaving a path of destruction in fallen trees and damaged or destroyed homes and buildings, Clayton County Emergency Management continues to seek residents’ and business owners’ help in compiling a comprehensive list of damages in the community. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

Two weeks after an EF-1 tornado ripped through McGregor, leaving a path of destruction in fallen trees and damaged or destroyed homes and buildings, Clayton County Emergency Management continues to seek residents’ and business owners’ help in compiling a comprehensive list of damages in the community.

Those with damage to their homes, businesses or other properties during the July 19 tornado, as well as others in Clayton County who suffered damage from torrential rains and flooding July 21-22, are asked to call Great River 211, by dialing 211.

Callers will be asked a brief set of questions, including location and damages incurred, which will then be reported back to Clayton County Emergency Management, said director Sarah Moser.

“It’s the biggest thing right now,” she said, “so we can see the extent of the damage and direct people to help. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have insurance cover everything.”

Moser said people can still report any damage to their properties, even if dollar figures are not yet available from their insurance adjustors.

There’s no definitive estimate yet on the amount of damage in McGregor and the rest of the county, Moser said. FEMA will visit the county this week, she added.

“When they come in, they’re assessing the damage to public infrastructure, like roads and utilities,” she explained.

In order to qualify for public assistance from FEMA, counties in the governor’s disaster proclamation—of which Clayton County is part of—must reach a specific dollar threshold.

“It’s a little more than $4 million for one incident,” she said, with the tornado and flooding being considered one incident.

If that threshold is met, a letter can then be sent to the president requesting a presidential disaster declaration.

“It doesn’t mean we’ll get a disaster declaration,” she stated. “That’s up to the president to decide.”

Moser said the damage reports from the public will help her form a more powerful impact statement, detailing the extent of the damage.

“If I can say 200 homes were damaged, it means more than if 50 homes were damaged,” she said.

Moser said public assistance from FEMA is much more likely than individual assistance. That’s why people should consider seeking help through the state of Iowa’s individual assistance program, which became available following the governor’s disaster proclamation. State of Iowa Individual Assistance provides grants up to $5,000 for affected households with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level or a maximum annual income of $40, 320 for a family of three. 

Grants are available for car or home repairs, clothing or food replacement and temporary housing expenses. Original receipts are required for those seeking reimbursement for actual expenses related to storm recovery.

The grant application and instructions are available on the Iowa Department of Human Services website. Potential applicants have 45 days from the date of the proclamation to submit a claim.

Locally, said Moser, the funds are administered by Northeast Iowa Community Action Corporation (NEICAC), which is located in the Clayton County Office Building, in Elkader. People are asked to contact them at (563) 245-2452 for more information.

Moser said those who do not qualify will be directed to other possible funding sources. It’s also hoped, she said, that the Restore McGregor 2017 Tornado Fund can help individuals in these situations.

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