MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa — Individual residents and business owners in Marshalltown looking to the federal government for financial aid in the wake of this summer’s tornado appear to be out of luck.
Governor Reynolds had requested the aid in the fall but was denied. She appealed but the result remained the same.
According to a press release from the governor’s office, FEMA denied Governor Reynolds’ request because “The impact was not severe or widespread enough for individual assistance”.
That doesn’t sit well with residents or Marshalltown’s Mayor, Joel Greer.
“I think it’s too bad because a lot of the part of town that got hit are people that are maybe under insured or no insurance” said Jackie Fiscus.
“I was disappointed, but not surprised. I’ve been told by mayors who have gone through disasters like this, even worse disasters, they have not gotten that kind of a FEMA grant” said Mayor Greer.
Greer says part of that frustration comes because representatives from FEMA didn’t arrive in Marshalltown until weeks after the storm.
“I would have a suggestion to the president and FEMA. When a town like ours gets hit with a disaster, send someone out from FEMA, the next day, and meet with the mayor and city administrator so we’re given some idea” said Greer.
Greer says through the process he wasn’t told by FEMA or other mayors who went through a tornado how much damage would actually qualify a town.
“I can tell you it’s a mystery and nobody that’s been through a disaster has been able to solve it, nobody knows” he said.
A request for comment from FEMA answering that question was not immediately returned.
While FEMA is not offering money to individuals, Marshalltown does qualify for public funding from FEMA. In October the governor announced the state would be using some of it for the VALOR program, where impacted residents can apply for state grants to make up to $5,000 in repairs. Residents say the town needs it, even in homes that didn’t take a direct hit.
“The damage may not look like much from the outside but when you go in or start tearing into something you find out it costs a lot more” said Fiscus.
Mayor Greer praised the countless volunteers and private donations that have come to help Marshalltown. He also thanked FEMA for the work they’ve done elsewhere in the country, but says he wishes they could have done more in Marshalltown.
If you want to donate to continue helping the Marshalltown recovery you can do so through the Habitat for Humanity at iowahabitat.org/donate.