Washington Evening Journal
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Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 22, 2014

Washington County declared disaster area

By Xiomara Levsen | Jul 11, 2014

Iowa Gov. Terry Brandstad issued a disaster proclamation for Washington County on July 9 from storms the county had the week of June 26.
This disaster proclamation is only for public assistance, which is not to be confused with the state’s individual assistance program, said Washington County Emergency Management Coordinator Larry Smith.
“This is only for public infrastructures, like the county’s secondary roads and DOT [Department of Transportation] roads,” Smith said.
In order to request a declaration of disaster the total losses from storm damage had to be above the statewide threshold of $75,964, he said.
“Initially, it didn’t look like we were going to ask for a state declaration because the damage to the secondary roads wasn’t meeting that number, but a city came in and said they had some damage that may qualify,” Smith said.
According to Smith, the City of Kalona has a problem in its wastewater system. The city reported this issue to him earlier this week, which put the county above the threshold, and this is why the request was submitted.
If another city has damage and would like to be included in the declaration Smith said he should be contacted right away.
“They will have to hurry,” he said. “Today, we’re scheduling with the FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] inspector to come in and visit all 90 spots on the county’s secondary roads that had damage.”
Washington County Engineer Jacob Thorius said he found out Wednesday Washington was declared a disaster area.
“I was surprised [about the disaster declaration] but it helped that Kalona had damage,” Thorius said.
When the FEMA inspector comes to Washington County someone from the engineer’s department will go along with the inspector to show he or she the damage the roads received, Thorius said, even though most of the roads have been repaired already.
With the disaster declaration, there is a possibility FEMA will pay for the repairs to the roads and it won’t come from the engineer department’s budget, Thorius said.

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