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Financial fallout: Communities still recovering from 2018 flooding

MADISON (WKOW) — Wisconsin received a federal disaster declaration last August after historic flooding, but state officials said federal funds don’t come close to helping communities fully recover.

Wisconsin Emergency Management Crisis Communications Manager Lori Getter said last summer, many residents didn’t have flood insurance and later realized the financial challenges that follow heavy rainfall.

“People, first of all, are shell shocked that they’re homeless, their homes have been damaged or destroyed and many of those items important to us are gone,” said Getter.

“And then (they) realize that they don’t have insurance coverage, that they’re not going to replace those items.”

FEMA distributed $8.8 million to 2,039 homeowners through Individual Assistance Grants across southern Wisconsin. But this money is only designed to replace “essential” items, such as a furnace or hot water heater. 

Getter said when counties report initial damage estimates to FEMA, their requests are much more than what they actually receive. For example, Dane County’s initial damage estimates for homeowners was 78 million, but FEMA only allocated 3.8 million.

 “Disaster assistance is not designed to make anyone whole, it’s basically to help you get your home back into living conditions,” said Getter.

Most of the time homeowners are left to rebuild on their own either by paying out of pocket or take out loans.

Multiple rounds of rain also destroyed roads and bridges. FEMA granted 400 local governments Public Assistance Grants totaling 9.5 million to fix infrastructure. This money is still being distributed as projects are on-going and several municipalities expressed they still need additional funds to fully recover.

Businesses and farms cannot receive grants from FEMA but can apply for loans through disaster assistance.


Individual Assistance Grants:

County:                                               Applications:         Total Dollars Approved:


Public Assistance Grants To-Date

County:                                                      Applicants:  Federal Funding Obligated:





Emilee Fannon

Capital Bureau Chief

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