Flood 2019

*Items in yellow are important information!

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The City of Wood River was a successful applicant for the special Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) disaster recovery grant. Funds may be used for housing recovery efforts within the City of Wood River. The City’s application allows for funding to be used for rehabilitating single family residences for homeowners and single family rental rehab. Per DED rules, all of the projects will benefit homeowners and renters at or below 120% of the area median income. The DED grant program does not allow for reimbursement of expenses for work already performed or services already contracted for. It can only fund work that has not been undertaken, so property owners may want to consider holding off on repairs if they feel they may be eligible for this program. Heartland Disaster Recovery Group (HDRG) Outreach Coordinator Elizabeth Troyer-Miller stated “Although that is naturally a disappointment to those who have already made repairs, this is still a very good thing for the community of Wood River. By obtaining this funding, the new money can be used for remaining work. The City and HDRG hope this will allow funds donated to the Grand Island Community Foundation and Heartland United Way to be stretched further toward reimbursements for work already completed.” Sara Arnett, HDRG Chairperson added “Although there will never be enough money to make people whole, we aim to help lessen the financial strain the flooding event caused. The DED funding creates a brighter future for many residents who were impacted by the March flood event.”

The City, Wood River Vision, and Heartland Disaster Recovery Group will be meeting with DED’s program staff and South Central Economic Development District, our grant administrator, to review the grant process. As with any project, there are several steps administratively that the City has to accomplish before we can begin the grant making process. Administrative staff are working on accomplishing these steps on the City’s behalf as quickly as possible. However, SCEDD has cautioned that the DED processes typically take 1-3 months for all of the administration work to be completed. Arnett explained “We’ll be pushing for the process to occur as quickly as possible without running afoul of the mandatory grant funding systems.” Mayor Cramer stated “We expect this program to run similar to our successful owner-occupied rehab program did, except that this time the income limit is higher and it’s open to both home owners and owners of rental properties impacted by the March flooding.”

Once the administrative work is accomplished, and DED has granted us “permission”, the City and housing staff will hold a public meeting for interested homeowners and contractors to discuss how the program will be operated. Public notice of the meeting will be given and postcards mailed to those homeowners, landlords and contractors who expressed interest in participating in the program. At the public meeting, applications will be made available to interested parties and staff will be available to answer questions. In the meantime, anyone interested in registering to receive a postcard announcement of that public meeting may complete the brief contact information form available at the City Office, on the City website, and on Facebook at “Welcome to Wood River” and the “Heartland Disaster Recovery Group”. The form must be returned to the City of Wood River office at 108 W 10th Street or dropped in their night drop box in the drive through lane.

Anyone with pressing questions is welcome to contact Arnett, Elizabeth Troyer-Miller ([email protected]) or their HDRG Community Disaster Advocate.




NEWS RELEASE – 8/27/2019
FEMA Offers Free Repair, Rebuild Information Sessions at Local Stores
The Home Depot
Hall County
911 Aleen Drive, Grand Island, NE 68803
9 am – 6:30 pm, August 28 – Sept 1





Community Disaster Advocate – Heartland Disaster Recovery Group

Basic Details: (.pdf)

  • Part or Full Time
  • Grant funded for 1 year with possible extension
  • Requires evenings and weekends
  • Bachelor Degree and experience working one on one with clients preferred

Apply online

News Release

Disaster Registration Deadlines Approach

LINCOLN, Neb. – There is less than a week remaining for survivors to register for disaster assistance after the winter storm, straight-line winds and flooding in March.  The deadline to apply is June 19, 2019 for both the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) individual assistance grants and the low interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)

FEMA disaster grants for qualified homeowners and renters may help pay for basic repairs to make a home habitable, provide temporary rental assistance and provide assistance for serious disaster-related needs not covered by insurance.

After registering for disaster assistance with FEMA, survivors may be referred to the SBA to apply for a low-interest disaster loan. SBA disaster loans provide the largest source of long-term federal disaster recovery funds for homeowners, renters, business owners and private nonprofits.

There are multiple ways to register:

  • Online, visit DisasterAssistance.gov.
  • On a smart phone, download the FEMA app and click on “disaster resources,” then “apply for assistance online.”
  • By phone, call FEMA’s toll-free registration line at 800-621-3362 or 800-462-7585 (TTY).

The deadline for local governments, tribal nations and nonprofit organizations, such as houses of worship, to register for FEMA Public Assistance is June 20, 2019. FEMA reimburses eligible applicants for the eligible costs for debris removal, emergency protective measures and the repair or restoration of disaster-damaged public buildings. The program also encourages mitigation measures to protect these damaged facilities from future natural disasters.

For any SBA disaster assistance questions or application information, residents and businesses can visit SBA.gov/disaster, call SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955, or email [email protected], or 800-877-8339 (TTY).

For more information on Nebraska’s disaster recovery, visit fema.gov/disaster/4420

The Grand Island Community Foundation and the Heartland United Way created this to update all of our applicants on the status of funding.



Federal Disaster Assistance Is for Nebraska Renters too

Renters in Nebraska counties and tribal areas whose homes and property were damaged by the March severe winder storms, straight-line winds and flooding may be eligible for federal disaster assistance.


The Elks Lodge established a Nebraska Elks Disaster Relief Fund for flood victims. If you know anyone affected by the recent floods please share. Request is not limited to Elk members but they will be given priority.

Good news!
FEMA just extended the deadline for affected Nebraska residents to for disaster assistance. Don”t wait to apply.

Individual Assistance Deadline Extended to JUNE 19

To register, go to DisasterAssistance.gov or
Call FEMA at 800-621-3362; (call 800-462-7585 TTY), 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. CDT seven days a week.

  1. FEMA disaster grants:
    1. Are NOT income-based per se.  They want everyone to apply.  Everyone needs to get registered with FEMA asap, no later than 5/20.
    2. Initial reply from FEMA is very likely a denial.  That first go-round is only based on whether the home is safe to occupy.  Oftentimes, the denial is because FEMA needs more info (i.e. copy of insurance settlement, etc.)
    3. The purpose of the FEMA grants is to ensure everyone is “safe and secure”.  FEMA won’t rebuild your basement; they want homeowners to borrow for that but they may be able to help some.
    4. If the basement is necessary to house members of the household (NO room for them on main/upper levels), the homeowner is more likely to receive assistance.
    5. They encourage everyone to appeal that first ruling if you disagree.  The appeal letter must explain WHY you feel you are eligible for an award.  Submit receipts for items you purchased, services you paid others to perform, etc.  Have the contractor clearly indicate right on the bill that the services performed were due to flooding.  Include a copy of your insurance settlement.  Refer to your case #.
    6. A homeowner who has already replaced his/her water heater CAN get reimbursed for it by FEMA.
    7. Submitting it online via the disaster.gov website is the best approach.  Realistically, you’ll hear back within a few weeks, even though FEMA says it can take up to 90 days.
    8. If FEMA agrees with the appeal, they’ll either reinspect the property or make an award.
  2. SBA Loans:
    1. Meanwhile, everyone needs to also submit an application to the SBA loan program no later than 5/20!  The estimate the loan application takes 20 minutes to complete online.
    2. SBA loans are available for home repairs and for personal property lost in the disaster, as well as for businesses.  See info sheets attached.
    3. If the loan amount is greater than $25,000, SBA will take a lien on the property but otherwise the loan is unsecured.
    4. In underwriting these loans, SBA will factor in the loan-to-value (equity available in the house) but there’s no limit.  Loans for home repairs are not income-based.
    5. The loan rate available is based on creditworthiness/whether the homeowner is likely to be able to borrow through traditional sources instead
    6. Expect a response from SBA within 7-10 business days (14 days max).
    7. The homeowner then has 60 days to accept the loan offer or not.  If the offer expires but the owner later decides they do need it, they can just contact SBA again to have it reprocessed.
    8. Once the SBA does it’s loan underwriting, FEMA then has a feel for the homeowner’s situation and may be willing to consider a larger grant based on need.
  3. Flood Insurance:  Some homeowners have asked about whether they’re required to purchase FI if they get assistance from FEMA.
    1. Generally speaking we would advise the homeowner to ask FEMA to clarify that for their particular situation.  But flood insurance is only required if the property is in Zones A or V; beyond that it’s optional for all homeowners and is more affordable for all the lower risk zones.
    2. Read the award letter from FEMA.  If the applicant gets a personal property award, there’s an offer of 3 years free flood insurance in the letter.  However, the applicant MUST CALL to actually activate that policy so make sure to take advantage of th

FEMA’s Disaster Recovery Center in Wood River will close on May 2. Don’t miss your opportunity to register in person and/or get your questions answered regarding your Disaster Assistance Application. . If you were affected by the flood in any way you qualify for some assistance. Yes, there are forms and applications to fill out. And then there are more forms and applications to fill out. It is worth doing!!

If you received a letter from FEMA saying you are ineligible, ALWAYS FOLLOW UP WITH A PHONE CALL OR VISIT TO DRC. Many times, you are simply missing some sort of information and you can move forward. So, a denial letter may not be the final word on your application.

Take note: FEMA may (or has) turn you down the first time. They will recommend you to SBA for a low i