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Presidential disaster assistance approved for Iowa tornado victims

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Presidential disaster assistance approved for Iowa tornado victims

May 24, 2024 | 6:06 pm ET
By Robin Opsahl
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Presidential disaster assistance approved for Iowa tornado victims
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The tornado that hit Greenfield on May 21, 2024 caused extensive property damage in addition to four deaths and dozens of injuries. Recovery efforts were ongoing across the impacted areas. (Photo by Robin Opsahl/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

President Joe Biden on Friday approved Gov. Kim Reynolds’ request for federal assistance for Iowa areas impacted by tornadoes this week, including the deadly twister that hit Greenfield. 

Biden made the major disaster declaration for Adair, Montgomery, Polk and Story counties that were impacted by severe weather Tuesday.

While tornadoes touched down in multiple areas, the town of Greenfield saw the most significant damage – Reynolds said Thursday that 153 homes in Adair County were destroyed by the storm. The Iowa Department of Public Safety also confirmed this week that four Greenfield residents died in the tornado, and at least 35 people were injured. The tornado also caused significant property damage in the city, including to the local hospital. 

With Biden’s disaster declaration, federal funds are now available for disaster relief and recovery efforts. 

Funds available are largely through two sources: the  Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Individual Assistance Program, allowing impacted residents and businesses to apply for assistance with costs and services related to the destruction of housing, personal property, as well as medical and legal expenses caused by the weather. It also opens up the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Disaster Loan Program, providing low-interest loans to impacted businesses.

The federal funds can be applied for on the through the FEMA disaster assistance website and the SBA loan portal.

In Greenfield and Adair County, federal funding is also available to state, local and tribal governments, as well as some nonprofits, for debris removal and emergency work on a cost-sharing basis.

In a news release on the announcement, Reynolds thanked Biden and FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell – who joined her in Greenfield Thursday – for their quick response to the emergency.

“This assistance is critical to Iowa’s recovery process,” Reynolds said in a statement.

Reynolds also included the four counties outlined by the presidential declaration as well as 38 others in a state Disaster Emergency Proclamation, opening up Iowa government assistance to those impacted by recent severe weather.

This means Iowans in households with incomes at or below 200% the federal poverty line can apply for the Iowa Individual Assistance Grant Program to receive grants of up to $5,000 for home and car repairs, and replacement of lost or damaged property.

People impacted by recent storms can apply for the grant through the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management website.