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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:

Crawford 47 $302,933
Dane 929 $3,821,380
Juneau  292 $811,211
La Crosse 43 $152,933
Marquette 61 $203,591
Monroe 194 $964,894
Richland 36 $229,194
Sauk 171 $583,906
Vernon 266 $1,799,166
SUM: 2,039 $8,869,280


Public Assistance Grants To-Date

County:                                                      Applicants:  Federal Funding Obligated:

Adams 13 $193,442
Crawford 29 $620,679
Dane 57 $1,187,644
Fond du Lac 31 $546,605
Green Lake 9 $93,869
Juneau 51 $990,976
La Crosse 16 $420,865
Marquette 10 $135,605
Monroe 56 $1,445,700
Ozaukee 10 $146,756
Richland 11 $500,185
Sauk 17 $419,775
Vernon 75 $1,148,174
Statewide (agencies) 15 $1,047,387





Emilee Fannon

Capital Bureau Chief

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