IOWA DERECHO 2020

Iowa needs at least $4B in federal aid, governor says after last week's derecho

Gov. Kim Reynolds submits request for presidential declaration

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds tours the storm damage at Marion Square Park with Marion Mayor Nick AbouAssaly in Marion on Tuesd
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds tours the storm damage at Marion Square Park with Marion Mayor Nick AbouAssaly in Marion on Tuesday. Reynolds and Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg saw the damage from Monday’s inland hurricane as they visited communities across the state. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

DES MOINES — Gov. Kim Reynolds on Sunday requested an expedited federal disaster declaration to aid Iowa counties ravaged by last week’s a derecho that caused damage preliminarily estimated at nearly $4 billion — including $3.77 billion in crop damage in 36 counties.

The Aug. 10 storm, to which authorities attribute at least three deaths, also caused about $100 million in damage to private utilities still struggling to return power to storm-stricken communities, along with $82.73 million in damage to at least 8,273 homes that were destroyed or severely damaged and nearly $45.3 million in public assistance needs for Iowans caught in the storm’s path.

Of that nearly $45.3 million request, $21.6 million could cover debris removal, $14.46 million would go to utilities and $7.53 million would be for structures.

Preliminary estimates indicate 275,000 residential parcels were impacted by hurricane-like winds between 75 and 112 mph — with about 3 percent of that total destroyed or experiencing major damage.

State officials estimate they have spent about $65 million to mitigate the storm impacts but the remaining cleanup, recovery and rebuilding tasks still are far beyond the state’s capacity to address the needs.

On the farm industry side, the U.S. Agriculture Department estimated 3.57 million acres of corn and 2.5 million acres of soybeans were impacted in 36 hardest-hit counties for an estimated loss of $3.77 billion.

“From cities to farms, Iowans are hurting, many still have challenges with shelter, food, and power. Resilience is in our DNA, but we’re going to need a strong and timely federal response to support recovery efforts,” Reynolds said in a statement.

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“I have formally requested an expedited presidential major disaster declaration to secure this critical federal assistance as quickly as possible,” she added. “This past week I had conversations with President (Donald) Trump and Vice President (Mike) Pence, both have pledged the full support of the federal government. I am very grateful for their continued partnership and commitment during this disaster.”

In the request to the president, Reynolds said the state will need at least $3,998,010,354 from federal emergency agencies to recover.

Under the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Individual Assistance Program, the governor requested assistance for 27 Iowa counties: Audubon, Benton, Boone, Cass, Cedar, Clarke, Clinton, Dallas, Greene, Grundy, Guthrie, Hardin, Iowa, Jackson, Jasper, Johnson, Jones, Linn, Madison, Marshall, Muscatine, Polk, Poweshiek, Scott, Story, Tama and Washington.

Individual Assistance Program funding provides disaster-impacted homeowners and businesses with programs and services to maximize recovery, including assistance with housing, personal property replacement, medical expenses and legal services.

Reynolds also requested funding under FEMA’s Public Assistance Program for the repair or replacement of public infrastructure and debris removal for 16 counties: Benton, Boone, Cedar, Clinton, Dallas, Jasper, Johnson, Jones, Linn, Marshall, Muscatine, Polk, Poweshiek, Scott, Story and Tama.

Work to develop the request letter began immediately following the severe storms and involved a multilevel approach led by the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, according to the governor’s office.

Historically, the department works with local officials to gather damage estimates that would be included in the request letter. In this instance, Reynolds said, many local agencies are still responding to the impacts and have not been able to complete detailed damage estimates.

The governor asked the department to leverage technology and historical data to create the damage estimates. Doing that, she said, allowed local agencies to continue to focus on immediate response needs while allowing the department to create the letter she signed Sunday.

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“While it is unconventional for a major disaster declaration request of this magnitude to be assembled and approved within a matter of days.” the governor said, “it is essential that our request is expedited and approved as quickly as possible.”

The damage estimates were generated by using photographs, aerial photography and GIS analysis.

Comments: (515) 243-7220; rod.boshart@thegazette.com

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