President Obama makes disaster declaration for 47 Iowa counties

This road outside Ottumwa was one of several damaged by flooding.

President Obama approved Governor Branstad's request for disaster declaration for 47 Iowa counties Tuesday. That means the areas most heavily impacted by severe storms, flooding and tornadoes between May 19 and June 14 will get funding from FEMA to repair the damage.

Wapello was one of the 47 counties and that's good news, because if the federal funding didn't come through, it would be the local government's responsibility to find money in the budget for repairs. Oftentimes, cities don't budget for disasters, since they're unpredictable, so the funding takes away from ongoing projects.

"For one of the disasters recently, we have over a million dollars of damage in the county, so obviously that would put a damper on projects and their current schedules," said Josh Stevens, Emergency Management Coordinator for Wapello County. "So with this type of funding, we're able to rebuild structures to before or like before conditions from the disaster."

Stevens said this year's flooding was very different than in 2008 or 2010, where the damage was caused by rising river levels, not by flash flooding. In 2008 and 2010, the river was above flood stage for around 45 days, whereas it was never above flood stage for more than a few days this year.

The flash flooding did do its fair share of damage, however, and now project teams will be assigned to different locations throughout the city and county and assess what needs to be done. Some projects will be worked on concurrently, while others will be completed in the order the city and/or county deem necessary.

Stevens also said no county in Iowa qualified for individual assistance, such as an individual home or basement, so all the FEMA funds will be put towards infrastructures like roads and bridges.

The entire list of counties qualified for federal funding is as follows: Appanoose, Benton, Buchanan, Buena Vista, Butler, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Clay, Clayton, Crawford, Davis, Delaware, Des Moines, Fayette, Floyd, Franklin, Greene, Grundy, Hardin, Henry, Ida, Iowa, Jasper, Johnson, Jones, Keokuk, Lee, Linn, Louisa, Lyon, Mahaska, Marshall, Mitchell, Monona, Monroe, Oâ??Brien, Palo Alto, Plymouth, Poweshiek, Sac, Sioux, Story, Tama, Wapello, Webster, Winnebago, and Wright.