Three weeks after the storm, Tama County continues to work on finding healthy long-term solutions to the change in the economic and physical landscape brought on by the July 11, 2011 Derecho storm. We appreciate Governor Branstad’s request of President Obama to declare Tama County in addition to Story, Marshall and Benton Counties a federal disaster area to support with recovery. And we urge for that presidential declaration to be signed. Because this natural disaster struck off the beaten path at such a critical time in our agricultural cycle, many worried that communicating the economic loss to mainstream audiences would be hard. But a combination of airplane and ground tours, social and traditional media, pictures and personal stories helped get the message out. For more pictures on the impact of the straight line wind storm click here.
No disaster fund currently exists for Tama County, Iowa. We are thus encouraging those moved to help to give directly to local nonprofits and government. We recognize that these kind of donations to the government may not commonly happen in metro areas when there are professionally staffed nonprofits, but please recognize that in rural communities, local government offices fulfill multiple roles and are sometimes closer to the need and better equipped to provide the financial due diligence than a loosely organized group of volunteers without a 501(c)3 legal status or a nonprofit a few counties over. Government can also provide you with tax write-off benefits like you would get from donating to a nonprofit:
- Home owners: To date 200+ homeowners communicated that they do not have the necessary insurance to return back to conditions before the storm. We are very appreciative of Governor Branstad’s proclamations for State Individual Assistance Grant Program for affected residents in which families with household incomes at or below twice the federal poverty index are eligible to apply for a grant of $5,000 max. In observing the damage we are fully aware that $5,000 may buy a family some time, but often it will not be a long-term rebuilding solution.
Nonprofit asking for help: Tama County’s Region 6 Planning Housing Trust fund
- The County: To date county infrastructure loss has been reported by the media to be around $1.9 million. That does not count uninsured and replaceable assets like trees over 200 years old at Otter Creek Lake and Park. Nor does this count lost revenue from closed county parks, cost of removing debris, and other diverted and overtime resources (price tag est. $80,000+). Additional unexpected resources are also needed to replace bent, damaged and destroyed road signs. Emergency management is also in need of replacing towers (or tower structures) and erecting more dependable communication towers to switch to narrowband compliance in low transmission areas (price tag est.$168,000).
Government asking for help: Tama County Conservation
Government asking for help: Tama County Emergency Management Agency
- The Cities: The towns of Clutier, Dysart, Garwin and Toledo are very appreciative for the support the state and surrounding area local government was able to lend to open roads, prevent further collapses on infrastructure, close down public facilities and safely clean up the hazards so far. Responding in a timely fashion in contracting professional services and payroll overtime are also adding up to a bill that is expected to be over $20,000+ for each of the small towns.
Government to help: City of Clutier, City of Dysart, City of Garwin, City of Toledo
- The Nonprofits: A number of buildings have also suffered significant damages. Congregations are expected to work together for solutions. But we also received requests from places like Pilgrim Heights Camp and Retreat Center to let people know that apart from major cleanup and tree removal costs, replanting trees for future generations will be important for the long-term. At this time the bill for the storm is expected to exceed $20,000+. Labor, cash and in-kind donations would be appreciated.
Nature/Educational nonprofits: Pilgrim Height Camp and Retreat Center
Churches to help: Baptist Church, Dysart, Catholic Church, Garwin
- Abandoned properties: It is also our long-term goal to minimize the blight and negative impact on neighborhoods that may commence if damaged properties remain abandoned, vulnerable to the elements, and no resources are available to turn them back into productive structures. A number of high risk properties have been identified to date.
Nonprofits to help: Tama County’s Region 6 Housing Trust Fund
Governments to help: various cities and county
We are very proud of the progress and cooperative spirit that is evident in Tama County. We also welcome additional support. Shawn Grimm from Dysart, Iowa put together a moving collection of images after the storm that reminds us all about the special quality that allows us to bloom in Tama soil.