Northwest Iowa — The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, has reversed an earlier denial of disaster assistance to three rural electric cooperatives and one municipal utility in our area, according to Iowa Governor Terry Branstad’s office.
An April 2013 ice storm caused millions of dollars in damage to electrical utility lines in five Iowa counties: Dickinson, Lyon, O’Brien, Osceola and Sioux. The damage was so extensive that a Presidential Disaster Declaration was issued on May 6, 2013. On Aug. 30, 2013, FEMA denied the request for funding in the amount of $19 million to restore downed utility lines in those five counties. In issuing the denial, FEMA initially said the utilities did not conduct comprehensive laboratory testing to verify the damage was a direct result of the disaster.
On Dec. 24, 2013, the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management submitted an appeal to FEMA, asking for reconsideration of their denial of funding for the impacted rural electric cooperatives. HSEMD filed the appeal in conjunction with Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative, Lyon Rural Electric Cooperative, Osceola Electric Cooperative, and Sanborn Electric and Telecommunications Utility. That appeal was denied in April 2015 and in August 2015, HSEMD submitted a second appeal. This second appeal has finally been granted.
By granting this second appeal, federal Public Assistance funding will be able to be used to replace conductors on the applicants’ electrical distribution systems, according to the Governor’s office.
Iowa Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds says she’s pleased that, after originally denying funding, FEMA listened to the concerns of Iowans and have reversed their original decision, which, she says, will go a long way to aiding the three rural electric cooperatives and one municipal utility in Northwest Iowa.” Reynolds says the importance of this decision cannot be undervalued.
Chuck Soderberg, executive vice president of the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives, says he’s thankful to Gov. Branstad, Lt. Gov. Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for submitting the second appeal to FEMA. He says this funding is greatly needed to the three electric co-ops that were affected and it allows them continue providing reliable and affordable power to their member-owners.