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Sunday, Mar. 29, 2015

The Wieck Report

Friday, March 9, 2007

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Lawmakers this week took quick action on a bill to provide state financial assistance to individuals hit hard by the recent winter storms.

The legislation authorizes $1 million for an individual assistance grant program. The program would provide grants of up to $3,110 to qualifying individuals affected by the recent winter storms. The money can be used for personal property, home repair and temporary housing assistance. The governor is expected to sign the legislation, and the funding will take effect immediately upon enactment.

The grant program is designed to a be stop-gap measure that will provide assistance until the federal government declares the storm a Presidential Disaster and federal aid takes effect.

If a federal disaster declaration is made, any dollars that have been awarded under the state program would be used to offset the state's 10 percent match requirement to receive federal assistance. If the federal government denies requests for a disaster declaration, then the state program will continue until the funding is depleted.

Lawmakers said the measure comes partly in response to a situation last year when Iowa City received extensive damage after being hit by tornadoes. In that case, the federal government denied requests for a federal disaster declaration, leaving Iowans affected by the tornados without emergency assistance. We don't want the same thing to happen in this case.

The same guidelines used for federal disaster assistance would apply to the state grant program. The money would apply to households with annual income less than 130 percent of the federal poverty guideline, based on the number of people included in the household.

Even if a federal disaster is declared, the process to get Iowans the financial assistance they need will take time. By implementing a state emergency assistance program, we can ensure Iowans get needed help sooner rather than later. If you would like more information about available assistance, please contact your county emergency management agency.