Marshalltown left with few options after FEMA denies Reynolds’ appeal

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MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa (KCRG) - FEMA, for a second time, has denied federal aid to help a lot of homeowners in Marshalltown recover from last summer’s tornado.

The tornado impacted about 900 homes. Governor Reynolds said the denial letter stated the impact still wasn't severe or widespread enough for individual assistance.

The tornado hit Marshalltown on July 19 destroyed or damaged hundreds of homes and businesses. Iowa applied for federal assistance, but FEMA denied it. Governor Reynolds then appealed that decision, but now FEMA’s denied the assistance again.

Marshalltown mayor Joel Greer said, after the first time, he wasn't relying on the appeal.

"They told me not to get my hopes up so I didn't," said Greer.

Ashley Thomas said the tornado demolished her home and reality when it struck.

"It completely took out my house," said Thomas.

An empty grass lot is all that's left where her home once stood. Thomas is one of dozens who lost homes in the tornado and don't have insurance.

"There’s an awful amount of uninsured people with homes that have been leveled or hurt hard enough that it’s going to be significantly expensive to fix," said Greer. " They were either renting or their landlord had insurance or they bought their home and they just couldn’t afford to pay it and their medication, too."

Her family is now in a home not far from the one that they lost in the storm. It's a place made possible thanks to the generosity of family members and the non-profit, Mid Iowa Community Action.

"My mom helped me figure out most of it because I couldn't do it," said Thomas. "I was an emotional wreck and still am to a point."

As grateful as she is for a roof over her head, she said seeing what once stood now gone is painful.

"It was my family home," said Thomas. "I grew up in the house."

According to FEMA's website, disaster victims could've gotten up to $33,000 per household with the individual assistance program.