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'We’re definitely in the grind now': Pace of recovery in Minden frustrates some neighbors

Insurance companies still appraising damage, holding up federal aid and rebuilding
Posted at 9:20 PM, Jun 04, 2024

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Five weeks after a tornado tore through Minden, destroying and severely damaging dozens of homes, neighbors says they're getting frustrated with the pace of recovery. Insurance adjusters haven't finished appraising the damage and, as a result, federal programs can't yet be accessed.

  • Minden Fire Chief Jake Nelson: “We’re definitely in the grind now, as far as recovering.”
  • “Basically, moving at the speed of government, which is way too slow for me,” said Tim Assmann, mechanic and garage owner.
  • Video shows ... storm-damaged homes and businesses in Minden; FEMA and SBA recovery centers in Minden.
  • FEMA information: Disasterassistance.gov
  • Small Business Administration: Lending.SBA.gov

BROADCAST TRANSCRIPT:

The pace of tornado recovery can be frustrating. I’m your southwest Iowa neighborhood reporter Katrina Markel in Minden. Between government agencies and insurance companies, some folks here say they would like to see the recovery happen just a little bit faster.

Minden Fire Chief Jake Nelson: “We’re definitely in the grind now, as far as recovering.”

Nelson says — five weeks after Minden was devastated by a tornado — some residents are irritated.

“I feel like there’s a lot of frustration in the community with how long it’s taken insurance companies to get boots on the ground and/or help,” he said.

Without complete insurance paperwork, some people are getting determination letters from FEMA saying they’ve been denied.

FEMA spokeswoman Tiana Suber says they should not give up.

“It’s not a final decision. I know that people see that and it just says – ‘oh, denied’ – and people give up immediately and we always want to encourage people to read through the entire letter,” she said.

Suber says, many times, FEMA just needs more information before moving forward with a claim.

“Basically, moving at the speed of government, which is way too slow for me,” said Tim Assmann, mechanic and garage owner.

He says his building is a total loss, but he’s rebuilding across the street.

“We’re going to build bigger and better over there,” he said.

Community leaders say businesses rebuilding is key to Minden’s recovery.

Katrina Markel: “Was there ever a question whether or not you were going to rebuild?”

Tim Assmann: “No, there was never a question. I’ve been in this community for over 20 years. This community is me and I am them.”

He said he’s been the recipient of neighbors’ generosity — including a couple from Ohio whose car he fixed after a breakdown — they sent him a check for $500.

The small business administration is also on site in Minden, helping not only business owners, but homeowners and renters with a wide range of services including low-interest loans.

That process can't get started, though, until neighbors are approved through FEMA.