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Gov. Branstad activates Iowa National Guard for flood response; disaster declarations issued for 13 counties

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JOHNSTON — Gov. Terry Branstad on Friday afternoon activated the Iowa National Guard and issued disaster declarations for 13 northern and Eastern Iowa counties experiencing flooding.

The proclamation allows for state resources to be used toward flood mitigation efforts.

“In a situation like this, in major cities like Waterloo and Cedar Rapids, obviously we have a little time to prepare, and we want to do everything we can for the state to assist the communities and do the best job we can to avoid and mitigate damage,” Branstad said in a news conference at Iowa National Guard Joint Forces headquarters in Johnston.

The disaster proclamation makes grant money available for low-income families affected by flooding. The grants are available through the state Department of Human Services.

Branstad said the state has dispatched more than 120,000 sandbags and four dump truck loads of sand, deployed or staged 22 water pumps, placed or staged 48 pallets of flood barriers, and placed 50 traffic barricades.

He added that he spoke with Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett on Thursday.

Adjutant General Tim Orr said the Iowa National Guard will begin its work by sending liaison teams to communities in the affected region to determine further resources.

“This really is to try and assess what the needs and requirements are,” Orr said. “Right now we have no missions that have been tasked to the Guard for soldiers or equipment.

“... The key to any successful operation is getting out in front of it. And that’s what we’re really trying to do now, is identify potential needs so we have time to respond.”

Branstad, Orr, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and Homeland Security and Emergency Management director Mark Schouten on Saturday will tour Cedar Rapids as well Clarksville and Shell Rock. Reynolds said they also likely will tour more areas in the coming days.

This is the first time the governor has activated the National Guard since flooding on the Missouri River in 2011, Branstad said.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, of Iowa, said the federal Army Corps of Engineers, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Weather Service also are involved in flood response efforts.

For all of The Gazette's Flood 2016 coverage, please visit our flood coverage center.

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