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Governor's disaster declaration first step in getting potential FEMA assistance to those affected by tornado

Posted at 5:25 PM, Apr 29, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-29 18:43:29-04

BLAIR, Neb (KMTV) — In a natural disaster things happen quickly.

It took only a few minutes for a tornado to rip through Ken and Kelly Tracy’s house on Friday and now, like hundreds of other homeowners, they are deciding whether or not to start the long process of rebuilding.

“We don’t know, we were thinking of selling the house and retiring in a few years. Well that went out the window,” said Kelly.

When it comes to major disasters like last week’s tornado outbreak assistance comes in many forms.

Immediate assistance providing food and lodging is provided by relief organizations like the Red Cross and Salvation Army, the state offers assistance to counties through the Governor’s Emergency fund and FEMA can offer financial assistance to both private homeowners and local governments looking to rebuild but first a disaster needs to be declared.

“A majority, 99% of this is all private property. Very little public or county property was involved in it. It’s a big deal to get a state declaration, which takes us to potentially a federal declaration,” said Washington County Emergency Manager Dan Douglas.

“The sooner they issue it the sooner everything can start happening,” said Douglas.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds issued her disaster declaration on Friday in the immediate aftermath of the storms, Governor Jim Pillen issued his on Sunday.

On Monday Governor Pillen announced that FEMA was contracting with the Civil Air Patrol to conduct imaging flights to begin assessing the damage, but said that process would take days.

“There is not really a set time to it, it’s a process going through government to get everything substantiated. There is potential for FEMA teams to come out and do more reviewing on their own to verify again everything they are seeing,” said Douglas.