By Todd Neeley
DTN Staff Reporter
OMAHA (DTN) -- Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds issued a disaster proclamation on Friday for 15 counties hit by the latest catastrophic flooding in the Midwest, Reynolds announced in a news release.
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts issued an emergency declaration on Tuesday ahead of the storm that raced through the Midwest this week. As of Thursday, South Dakota Gov. Krisi Noem was preparing an emergency declaration for damage from the blizzard, according to the governor's website, http://news.sd.gov/….
Reynolds' proclamation allows state resources to be used to respond to and recover from the effects of flooding and flash flooding in the counties of Adair, Bremer, Buena Vista, Cherokee, Clay, Dallas, Dickinson, Emmet, Fayette, Franklin, Fremont, Guthrie, Hardin, Plymouth and Shelby.
On Thursday, Reynolds activated the state emergency operations center and issued a proclamation to allow state resources to be utilized to respond to and recover from the effects of this severe weather across the state.
The proclamation also made the Iowa Individual Assistance Grant Program and the Disaster Case Management Program available in the counties of Butler, Cerro Gordo, Clayton, Hancock, Harrison, Humboldt, Ida, Iowa, Kossuth, Mills, Monona, Montgomery, O'Brien, Pottawattamie, Sioux, Webster, Winnebago, Winneshiek, Woodbury, Worth and Wright.
Iowa residents in counties affected by the recent weather are asked to report damage to help local and state officials better understand the damage sustained, according to a news release from Reynolds' office.
Damage to property, roads, utilities and other storm-related information may be reported. Information will be collected by the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and shared with local emergency management agencies.
The Iowa Individual Assistance Grant Program provides grants of up to $5,000 for households with incomes up to 200% of the federal poverty level or a maximum annual income of $41,560 for a family of three, according to the Reynolds news release.
The Disaster Case Management program helps Iowa residents overcome disaster-related hardships, injury or adverse conditions.
There are no income eligibility requirements for this program that closes 180 days from the date of the governor's proclamation.
In Nebraska, Ricketts outlined the steps state officials are taking to respond to the flooding.
"As snow and rain pass, many communities have experienced devastating flooding," Ricketts said. "This could last for quite some time. Nebraskans should watch the weather and waterways in their communities closely in the coming days, and be prepared for historic levels of flooding even if it has not hit their community yet. As Nebraskans know, conditions can change quickly, and everyone needs to be prepared."
Following Ricketts' declaration of emergency, the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency opened the State Emergency Operation Center in response to hazardous conditions caused by blizzards and flooding affecting the majority of the state.
"NEMA is tracking conditions across the state, responding to requests for assistance from local emergency managers and developing a common operating picture to keep local officials aware of the situation," according to a news release.
The SEOC is staffed by officials from NEMA, the State Patrol, Department of Health and Human Services, Fire Marshal, Department of Transportation, Department of Natural Resources, the Military Department, and other agencies.
Evacuations continue in many Nebraska communities including Randolph, Norfolk, Beemer, Cedar Rapids, Belgrade, Dannebrog, St. Edward, Genoa, northern Butler County, Horseshoe Lake, Inglewood and eastern Richardson County.
FARM BUREAU ANNOUNCES FUND, PORTAL
Later on Friday, the Nebraska Farm Bureau announced in a press release its relief efforts to help Nebraska farmers, ranchers, and rural communities suffering from the natural disasters. This included a disaster relief fund and an online agriculture disaster exchange portal to connect those in need with those who can help, the bureau explained.
"Money donated to the Disaster Relief Fund will be targeted to aid Nebraska farmers, ranchers, and rural communities affected by recent storms and flooding. Priority will be given to efforts to restore health and safety in rural communities and to farm and ranch households that have been damaged or displaced by the natural disaster, stated the farm bureau release.
"The fund's targeted recipients are farm and ranch families and rural communities in the disaster areas who have immediate needs as a result of the natural disaster, those who cannot get assistance from other sources, those who will have to wait until they receive other assistance, and those who have losses not covered by insurance," said the state farm bureau's president Steve Nelson.
The bureau said it also opened the Agriculture Disaster Exchange portal, an online portal on the Nebraska Farm Bureau website that allows members to share information, provide a place for those in need to make requests for assistance, and for those looking to help, to offer it, explained the release.
"The Agriculture Disaster Exchange operates like an online 'want ad' page. If a member has extra hay to sell or donate to a livestock producer in need, they can post it there. If a member needs help or equipment to remove debris after flooding, they can post that type of request as well. Those are just examples of how the exchange can be used by our members. The goal is to provide an online clearinghouse so members can interact and help each other during tough times," stated Nelson.
People who wish to donate or apply for aid from the disaster fund, use the portal, or access other disaster assistance resources, can check out www.nefb.org/disaster. Donations will be made to a fund established in the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation, which is a 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit. Donations made to the fund are tax-deductible, the farm bureau said.
Todd Neeley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow him on Twitter @toddneeleyDTN
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