MUSCATINE — The Muscatine County Board of Supervisors approved a disaster declaration Monday, a first step in allowing county residents to apply for state assistance related to spring flooding.
Supervisors made the approval at its regular board meeting in response to "a natural type disaster due to the melting snow and rain from March 13, 2019 to unknown," the declaration read. The county may "execute the expenditure of emergency funds from all available sources," the declaration read, "the invoking of mutual aid agreements and the applying to the State of Iowa for assistance."
Muscatine joins Louisa and Scott counties that have recently declared disaster emergencies. The latter two have already been declared disaster areas by the Governor.
Muscatine County Emergency Management Director Brian Wright said after learning Scott and Louisa counties approved declarations, he toured the Saulsbury Bridge Recreation Area near the Cedar River, and had discussions with County Conservation Director Curt Weiss and County Engineer Keith White about issues they are managing as a result of high waters. Wright said he also considered flood prevention efforts made by the city of Muscatine in bringing his recommendation before the board.
Wright said the damage threshold is just less than $162,000 for the county to apply for federal public assistance. He said because there are still areas of the county with high water and more weather in the forecast, the county could reassess damages 60 days from the declaration.
Gov. Kim Reynolds last Thursday signed a disaster proclamation for Scott and Louisa counties making them eligible for the Iowa Individual Assistance Grant Program and the Disaster Case Management Program along with 52 other Iowa counties.
According to information from the state, qualifying households for the Iowa Individual Assistance Grant Program may receive up to $5,000 for home or car repairs, replacement of clothing or food and temporary housing expenses. Disaster Case Management is a program with no income eligibility requirements that assists clients in overcoming disaster-related hardship, injury or adverse condition.
The programs would be available to Muscatine County residents following a proclamation from Gov. Reynolds. Federal public assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is available to 56 counties after a request from Reynolds was approved in March by President Donald Trump. The following five Iowa counties: Fremont, Harrison, Mills, Monona, and Woodbury, qualify for federal individual assistance through the presidential declaration.
In a new release from the governor's office, the projected impact to the state in these areas is $1.6 billion.
Wright said the county should make the disaster declaration now before the state declaration ends. He said there may not be enough in damages across the county for the county to qualify if another declaration is made later.
Gov. Reynolds extended existing proclamations of disaster emergency Saturday for counties impacted by March flooding. The extension lasts 30 days, until May 12, for utilization of state resources. The May 12 deadline also applies to individuals seeking assistance from the Iowa Individual Assistance Grant Program.
More information on Iowa flooding may be found at floods2019.iowa.gov.