President Donald Trump has approved federal disaster assistance for areas of Wisconsin affected by severe storms, flooding, and mudslides back in late July. Federal assistance may have been granted for our area, but not all are covered. The assistance was granted to repair infrastructure that was damaged like the many roadways that were washed out.
The President signed the declaration on Saturday, allowing emergency funding to repair damage in 11 western Wisconsin counties including La Crosse, Jackson, Monroe, Trempealeau, and Vernon county. La Crosse county was dealt roughly five million dollars worth of damage and only half was deemed eligible for federal assistance. Unfortunately, not all who saw damage will receive aid.
Keith Butler, the Emergency Management Coordinator for La Crosse county says, "Townships, villages, cities, and highway departments and certain non-profit organizations like public utilities, the Dairyland Power Co-Op, those kind of things. They're eligible applicants, but not individual home owners and businesses. That's what we call the individual assistance program. The state of Wisconsin was not eligible to ask for that."
As a result of that, Governor Walker did ask for a small business administration (SBA) disaster loan program. Small businesses can apply for a loan for physical damage through the SBA website until October 17th...but why the long wait for assistance? Well the application for funding was made immediately after the July flooding event and that request has been pending for two months. The wait, from Keith's understanding, was because of how active the hurricane season has been keeping FEMA as they struggle to keep up with the demands for funding. This has resulted in a back log of requests.
There is still a final round of meetings the La Crosse County Emergency Management team has to have with FEMA to re-evaluate and determine the final funding assistance for public municipalities.