Below is the weekly update from the Rebuild Iowa Office.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) this week approved $5.1 million in the first round of Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funds to be used by Iowa communities for public acquisition of property damaged by the devastating floods of 2008.

Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funds assist communities in minimizing the effects of future flooding through the purchase of damaged property in flood-prone areas. Properties purchased by communities in this program must be converted into green space and cannot be redeveloped.

“FEMA officials and members of the Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division should be commended in their efforts to move this process forward, a process which will in turn help communities and individuals move forward in recovery,” said RIO Executive Director Lt. Gen. Ron Dardis.

Although it will still take some time for the funds to reach individual communities and for the communities to decide which properties to buy out in the flood mitigation program, state officials are excited to see the approval process moving forward. The flow of this money is reflected in the funding chart included in today’s news release, and in the funding charts available on the Rebuild Iowa Office (RIO) Web site www.rio.iowa.gov.

Meanwhile, another recovery program continues to assist disaster-affected Iowans. Residents in all 78 counties declared presidential disaster areas for Individual Assistance after last summer’s natural disasters can apply for Iowa’s Unmet Needs Disaster Grant Program. The program, which was included in the Iowa Disaster Recovery Bill, provides up to $2,500 per household to help pay for losses or expenses from last year’s disasters which have not yet been covered by other forms of assistance.

Applications for the Unmet Needs Disaster Grant Program were first accepted by Long-Term Recovery Committees in 14 counties in mid-March. Since then, the remaining 64 counties have finalized their preparations and are ready to accept applications through their designated Long-Term Recovery Committees. The Iowa Disaster Human Resource Council (IDHRC) has agreed to serve as the Long-Term Recovery Committee for those counties that do not have an organized committee at this time.

The grants provide up to $2,500 for unreimbursed expenses for personal property, home repair, food assistance, mental health assistance, child care, transportation and temporary housing incurred as a result of last year’s disasters. The grants are designed to help cover unmet needs in counties declared presidential disaster areas for Individual Assistance between May 24 and Aug. 14, 2008.

Applicants should apply to the Long-Term Recovery Committee that covers the county where they lived when the disaster occurred. Applicants have until June 30, 2010, to apply for any existing funds. Applicants can find their Long-Term Recovery Committee on the Rebuild Iowa Office Web site at http://www.rio.iowa.gov/case_management/index.html.

Funds continue to flow from federal and state disaster-aid programs to communities, businesses and individuals in Iowa from the more than $2 billion which has been promised to Iowa for disaster relief. Charts featured on the RIO Web site at www.rio.iowa.gov/funds.html detail the movement of these funding sources and are updated weekly.

For each specific source of funding, two graphs outline the status of Iowa’s progress. The first graph details how much has been allocated to Iowa from the funding source, how much has been approved for state and/or local programs, as well as the amount that has actually been spent within Iowa, the state’s communities or on individual Iowans. The second graph focuses on the weekly progress of these funds. These charts, which highlight more than 15 different sources of disaster aid, will be updated at the end of each week and can be printed off the RIO Web site.

It is important to note that each chart also includes a “Comment” section. This provides an explanation as to why funds may not be in Iowa at this time, may not be accessible to communities at this time or may vary from previous reports.

More than 39,800 Iowans have registered with FEMA for disaster assistance and more than 35,000 Iowans have visited FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers around the state. Of the 85 Iowa counties eligible for federal assistance, 77 are eligible for both individual assistance and public assistance.

JUMPSTART IOWA UPDATE

Of the funding approved for the 2008 disasters, $161 million will be used for the Jumpstart Iowa Initiative. Jumpstart Iowa is a state housing and small business recovery initiative, announced by Governor Culver on Sept. 12. The state’s housing and small business assistance plan brings assistance to Iowans still feeling the effects of this year’s natural disaster. The initial allocations were released to the Councils of Government and Entitlement Cities on Sept. 26, with checks flowing to individual Iowans days later. The Jumpstart Iowa Initiative is designed to allow homeowners and businesses to apply for forgivable loans to assist in business rebuilding, home repair and purchase, and interim-mortgage assistance. The Jumpstart Small Business Program stopped accepting applications on April 15. A new assistance program, the Disaster Recovery Business Rental Assistance Program, began accepting applications on April 16.

Below are the latest available figures for the Jumpstart Housing and Small Business Assistance programs statewide:

Jumpstart Housing Update (as of May 7, 2009):

Total number of applicants: 4,034
Total amount requested in those applications: $68.8 million
Total number of applicants approved to-date: 2,651
Total amount approved: $44.8 million
Total amount disbursed: $30.6 million
Average award: $16,891
Applications ineligible for the program: 435

Jumpstart Small Business Update (as of May 7, 2009):

Total number of applicants: 1,156
Total amount requested in those applications: $120.2 million
Total number of applicants approved to-date: 925
Total amount approved: $28.8 million
Total amount disbursed: $ 22.5 million
Average award: $31,212
Applications ineligible for the program: 193

Iowans can learn more about financial assistance programs and how to apply by calling 1-866-849-0323. For more information about the state’s recovery and rebuilding efforts, please visit the Rebuild Iowa Web site at www.rio.iowa.gov.