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President Trump OKs Iowa disaster declaration

President Trump OKs Iowa disaster declaration

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DES MOINES — President Donald Trump has declared that a major disaster exists in the state of Iowa and has ordered federal assistance to supplement state, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by the coronavirus pandemic that began on Jan. 20 and is continuing.

The president’s action Tuesday makes federal funding available to state, tribal, and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations for emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance for all areas of Iowa impacted by COVID-19.

Pete Gaynor, administrator of FEMA within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, named Paul Taylor as the federal coordinating officer for federal recovery operations in the affected areas.

Gov. Kim Reynolds said Wednesday the president’s action removes a $5 million cap on federal funds as well as making available the community disaster loan program.

“I want to thank President Trump for his quick response in approving Iowa’s disaster declaration because it will open up federal resources to Iowa as we combat the spread of COVID-19,” Reynolds said in a statement. “This outbreak is an unprecedented crisis for the entire nation and it’s going to take a whole-of-government approach to limit the spread of the virus and provide economic relief to all of those impacted.”

The declaration provides assistance for work and services to save lives and protect property, to include emergency protective measures, she said.

The Iowa governor also has requested activation of the federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance and Crisis Counseling programs and statewide Hazard Mitigation Assistance funding — portions of the overall request that are still under consideration.

Additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by Iowa officials and warranted by the results of further assessments by federal agencies, according to a White House news release.

Lucinda Parker, spokeswoman for the state Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, said the presidential declaration grants Iowa public assistance program funding for emergency protective measures and direct federal assistance.

Public assistance for emergency protective measures is available now to eligible private non-profits and local and state governmental entities to offset costs related to COVID-19 response, she said. The assistance comes in the form of a grant that provides at least 75 percent federal funding.

In Iowa, the state also provides 10 percent non-federal matching funds to support these local grants that typically carry a local cost share of 15 percent.

Direct federal assistance is primarily a state request made through FEMA and/or HHS for materials, supplies, or equipment related to the COVID-19 response, Parker added, much of which is medically related items that would come from the Strategic National Stockpile.

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