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How To Apply For Disaster Support If You're Out Of Work Or Have Storm Damage To Repair

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Jason Burns
/
IPR
Monday's derecho storm left hundreds of thousand without power and many people wondering how best file insurance claims and begin cleaning up.

When the governor issues a disaster proclamation, residents who are eligible can apply for assistance grants to pay for repairs, food and other necessities.

Editor's note: This post will be updated. It was last updated at 7:30 a.m. on Tues., Sep. 2.

When the governor issues a disaster proclamation, or when the federal government grants a disaster proclamation request, residents who are eligible can apply for grants to pay for things like repairs, food and other necessities. Those grants have deadlines and are available from the state for people who live in the 27 counties where Gov. Kim Reynolds has declared disaster.

Ten days after the derecho, President Trump approved the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Individual Assistance Program for Linn County, making funding available to residents from the federal government.

On September 1, he approved individual assistance for 10 more counties, while assessments for some are still ongoing.

27 Iowa Counties Requested Disaster Assistance From FEMA


Residents can apply for federal assistance at disasterassistance.gov and can find more information about state resources at disasterrecovery.iowa.gov.

Public assistance available:
Benton, Boone, Cedar, Clinton, Dallas, Jasper, Johnson, Jones, Linn, Marshall, Muscatine, Polk, Poweshiek, Scott, Story, Tama

Public assistance will likely be requested:
Greene, Grundy, Guthrie, Hardin, Iowa, Jackson, Keokuk, Washington

Individual assistance available:
Benton, Boone, Cedar, Jasper, Linn, Marshall, Polk, Poweshiek, Scott, Story, Tama

Damage determined to be insufficient to qualify for individual assistance:
Audubon, Cass, Clarke, Clinton, Dallas, Greene, Grundy, Guthrie, Hardin, Iowa, Jackson, Johnson, Jones, Madison, Muscatine, Washington

Counties that withdrew their request for eligibility for individual assistance:
Audubon, Clarke, Grundy, Iowa, Jackson, Jones, Madison, Muscatine, Washington

Individuals and business owners who sustained losses in approved counties can begin applying for FEMA assistance from the federal government by calling 1-800-621-3362 or 1-800-462-7585 for TTY users. Users of 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS) may call 1-800-621-3362. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. CST, seven days a week, until further notice. Another option is registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov.

Find more information from the state at the state's new disaster recovery website disasterrecovery.iowa.gov.

Can I apply for unemployment benefits?

Yes. Until the president declares a disaster in Iowa, Iowans can apply for unemployment from the Iowa Department of Workforce Development. You may file for benefits online here: https://uiclaims.iwd.iowa.gov/UIInitialClaim. This is the fastest and most efficient way. You can also visit a local IowaWORKS Center.

To be eligible for UI benefits a claimant must:

  • be totally or partially unemployed
  • have worked and earned a minimum amount of wages in work covered by UI in the last 15 to 18 months
  • have lost his or her job through no fault of their own
  • be able and available for work
  • Verify your identity through online verification or provide required documents
  • be actively seeking work (work search may be waived if certain criteria are met)
  • be registered for work (unless the work search requirement is waived)

Disaster Unemployment Assistance

When there is a disaster declared by the federal government, that releases disaster unemployment assistance for citizens. Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) is a program which provides temporary income to eligible individuals who become unemployed as a result of a major disaster. It is funded by the federal government, not by state unemployment taxes paid by employers.

President Trump has partially approved a presidential disaster declaration for the state of Iowa. DUA assistance has not yet been released. The Federal Emergency Management Agency said Monday, Aug. 17 that public assistance—for emergency work and repairing facilities—was approved for 16 counties: Benton, Boone, Cedar, Clinton, Dallas, Jasper, Johnson, Jones, Linn, Marshall, Muscatine, Polk, Poweshiek, Scott, Story and Tama counties.

Assistance for individuals and households was "under review," according to a FEMA document. Gov. Reynolds has requested individual assistance for 27 counties: Audubon, Benton, Boone, Cass, Cedar, Clarke, Clinton, Dallas, Greene, Grundy, Guthrie, Hardin, Iowa, Jackson, Jasper, Johnson, Jones, Linn, Madison, Marshall, Muscatine, Polk, Poweshiek, Scott, Story, Tama and Washington.

What is a major disaster?

A “major disaster” is a hurricane, tornado, storm, flood, earthquake, drought, ice conditions, fire or other catastrophe. The President declares a major disaster and makes funds available. The Disaster Assistance Period is the first week following the date the disaster began and ends with the 26th week after the disaster was declared. IWD will announce the 30-day benefit application period. You must file your DUA claim during this 30-day period.

In Iowa, disaster unemployment benefits are available to workers or self-employed individuals in the disaster area at the time it occurred and whose major source of livelihood is damaged due to the disaster. You must meet at least one of the following requirements.

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As a direct result of the disaster, you:

  • Have a week of unemployment following the date the major disaster began
  • Are unable to reach the place of employment
  • Were to have started work and do not have the job or are unable to reach the job
  • Become the breadwinner or major support for a household because the head of household died as a direct result of the major disaster
  • Cannot work because of an injury caused as a direct result of the major disaster

File online at https://uiclaims.iwd.iowa.gov/UIInitialClaim/ or call 1-866-239-0843 from Monday - Friday, 8:00am - 4:30pm.

You will need your Social Security Number (SSN). A representative will help you determine if you are eligible for any other unemployment benefits. If so, you will collect those instead of DUA. If not, the representative will help you file your DUA claim.

Provide proof of wages. If you are unable to provide this proof, you can provide proof of employment within 21 days and a determination will be issued for the minimum DUA amount.

Your benefit amount will be based on the income received during the most recent completed tax year. The minimum weekly DUA benefit amount will be used until proof of income is provided. You have until the end of the disaster period to provide proof of wages. You may need to supply a copy of your federal tax return for the prior completed tax year and your claim will be re-determined.

What help can I get if my home is destroyed or damaged?

When the governor issues a disaster proclamation, residents who are eligible can apply for disaster assistance grants and assistance.

IIAGP offers grants to families whose household’s annual income is at 200% or less of the federal poverty level. Each qualifying household MAY receive up to $5,000.00. The IIAGP is activated when the governor issues a disaster proclamation turning on IIAGP for the affected counties. Find more information here.

Disaster proclamations were issued for the following counties as of Friday, Aug. 14, which have deadlines for assistance on the following dates following Monday’s derecho:

  • Guthrie and Cass counties in response to a severe storm on August 10 and continuing.
  • Audubon and Madison counties in response to severe storm August 10 and continuing. The application deadline is September 28, 2020.
  • Grundy, Jackson, and Jones counties in response to severe storm August 10 and continuing. The application deadline is September 28, 2020.
  • Benton, Boone, Cedar, Clarke, Clinton, Dallas, Greene, Hardin, Iowa, Jasper, Johnson, Linn, Marshall, Muscatine, Polk, Poweshiek, Scott, Story, Tama, and Washington counties in response to severe storm August 10 and continuing. The application deadline is September 25, 2020.

Food Assistance Replacement

Households who currently receive Food Assistance may request replacement of food destroyed as a result of the recent storm damage, or spoilage as a result of a power outage. As a general rule, food will keep 4 hours if stored in a refrigerator, 24 to 48 hours if stored in a freezer. Households have 10 calendar days from when they discover food loss to complete the application.

  • Digital submission: Download and complete the application form, then submit a clear image of the form to: ImagingCenter5@dhs.state.ia.us.
  • Forms are available at local DHS offices and are also availble by mail. Completed paper forms can be submitted to local offices in person, by mail or by fax. Use our DHS Office Locator to find the one nearest you.

Iowa Individual Disaster Assistance Grant

IIAGP offers grants to families whose household’s annual income is at 200% or less of the federal poverty level. Each qualifying household MAY receive up to $5,000.00. The IIAGP is activated when the Governor issues a disaster proclamation turning on IIAGP for the affected counties. Please note - if a presidential disaster declaration for Individual Assistance is issued for a county for the same event, the state program is automatically canceled for that county, as the federal program then goes into effect. The federal program does not have an income restriction.

The application may be downloaded by clicking on Iowa Disaster Assistance Application. Applications can be turned in to a local Community Action Agency, go to www.iowacommunityaction.org to find your local agency. For the Iowa Individual Disaster Assistance Grant program information call toll-free 1-877-347-5678.

Iowa Disaster Case Management

Disaster Case Management is a time limited resource and process that involves a partnership between a disaster case manager and a household impacted by a disaster to develop and carry out a Disaster Recovery Plan. This partnership provides the client with a single point of contact to facilitate access to a broad range of resources, promoting sustainable assistance for individual’s and a household’s recovery. These services are client focused, and provided in a manner consistent with standards for trauma-informed practice in human services.

Contact your local Community Action Agency at www.iowacommunityaction.org to find your local agency.

Where can I find mental health support? In the middle of a pandemic, now this...

The Iowa Disaster Behavioral Health Response Team (DBHRT) is a trained team of volunteers who will respond to the mental health needs of Iowa residents following disasters and critical incidents. The team provides services for community providers based on local area needs and may be delivered at a disaster site in an affected community or statewide. Services may include:

  • Conduct behavioral health needs assessment following a disaster
  • Provide Psychological First Aid
  • Provide brief crisis counseling and intervention
  • Provide community outreach
  • Provide public information and education
  • Provide critical incident stress debriefing
  • Provide behavioral health consultation for providers, communities and individuals
  • Provide screening and referral for those affected by a disaster or critical event

Local authorities may request DBHRT assistance in order to meet the behavioral health needs of communities in crisis by contacting the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Duty Officer. The duty officer is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 515-725-3231. For more information go to www.iowadbhrt.org.

If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide or are concerned about someone who is in mental health crisis, contact Your Life Iowa by calling (855) 581-8111 or text (855) 895-8398.

If you are in Linn County, Foundation 2 is offering crisis counseling services as well. Find locations at:

  • Ladd Library, 3750 Williams Blvd SW, Cedar Rapids, IA
  • Northwest Recreation Center parking lot, 1340 11th St NW, Cedar Rapids, IA
  • St. Paul’s Methodist Church, 1340 3rd Ave SE, Cedar Rapids, IA
  • The ROC Center at 1202 10th Street SE, Cedar Rapids, IA
  • Taylor Elementary School, 720 7th Ave SW, Cedar Rapids, IA

Covenant Family Solutions is also offering free, 30-minute counseling sessions. Call them at (319) 261-2292.

If you don't want to talk with someone but do feel like texting, text HOME to 741741.

If you are not in mental health crisis but just want someone to talk to, the Iowa Warm Line is also an option. The warm line is a peer run, telephone based, non-crisis, confidential, listening line for anyone struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues. The Warm Line is staffed by people who have been through a similar journey and are in recovery themselves. Call toll free at (844) 775-9276 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. if you live in Benton, Bremer, Buchanan, Delaware, Dubuque, Iowa, Johnson, Jones, or Linn county.

If you are looking for Spanish speaking mental health counseling services, find a list of providers here:
https://humanrights.iowa.gov/iowa-latino-bilingual-andor-bi-cultural-mental-health-providers

Where do I find pet food?

In Des Moines, anyone struggling to provide food for their cat or dog can come to ARL Animal Services (1615 SE 14th St., Des Moines) on Tuesdays and Fridays between 12 and 4 p.m. The ARL pet food pantry was created to help pets (and therefore people) during times of crisis just like this.

For anyone who is unable to come in-person due to health or transportation concerns, or needs help sooner, they can email outreach@arl-iowa.org or call 262-9503. For those lucky enough to be able to provide for their pets, they can PAW IT FORWARD to help those in need at http://ow.ly/uQWR50yRbbL.

I still have unanswered questions.

You can always call or text 211 to be connected with help. Find more information here:
https://www.211.org/.