Local Governments Wait for Flood Reimbursement

Nov 21, 2019

Most local governments in the Quad Cities are waiting for checks from FEMA to help pay for flood expenses.

Because Davenport's application is more complicated, employees continue to work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to document and apply for Public Assistance.

Michelle O'Neill reports presidential disaster declarations for Illinois and Iowa insure cities and counties will get at least some help paying the bills.

First of all, the maximum local governments and other organizations may receive is 75% of the expenses submitted to FEMA.

Credit Michelle O'Neill / WVIK News

By far, Davenport will ask for the most money from FEMA, around $3.5 million.

Submitting the next highest amount is Rock Island County at $884,000, followed by East Moline and Rock Island which each submitted around $540,000 in eligible flood expenses.

Bettendorf's total is $472,000, and Moline applied for $404,000.

2019 Mississippi River Flood, River Drive in Moline, IL (file)
Credit Herb Trix / WVIK News

Rodd Schick is Moline's General Manager of Municipal Services.

He says Moline has worked hard to lower its risk for damage, especially since the severe floods in 2001 and 2008.

Moline improved its storm water system, with a better pumping system and better gate control to stop backups.

In addition, Schick says parts of River Drive in Moline have been raised four feet. And the bathrooms at Ben Butterworth Park are now made of concrete.

Employees cleaned up lots and lot of silt plus debris after the river receded.

Nicole Gleason, Davenport's Director of Public Works, estimates the city will submit a total of $3.5 million to FEMA.

The long, record-breaking Mississippi River flood damaged the road to Credit Island in Davenport, IA. May 2019
Credit submitted / City of Davenport, Iowa

The city is applying for reimbursement in about ten categories, from payroll and overtime during the flood fight and a couple of cleanups, to utility bills, equipment and vehicle costs, vehicle losses, and damage to facilities, such as Union Station and Credit Island Way.

At the same time, Gleason says Davenport is beginning to work on priorities identified by the mayor's Flood Task Force. Protection of the Water Pollution Control Plant is at the top of the list.

Nonprofits and places of worship that provided food and child care to low income residents during the flood also applied to FEMA for reimbursement.

Other taxing bodies also applied, such as townships, levee districts, and transportation agencies. Local governments, companies, people, and other groups spent far more than what they listed on FEMA public assistance applications. And some damage can't be measured in dollars and cents.