Trump grants disaster declaration for Iowa flooding

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a signing ceremony for an executive order to
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a signing ceremony for an executive order to "improve transparency and promote free speech in higher education" in the East Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 21, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

DES MOINES — President Donald Trump has granted a disaster declaration for 56 Iowa counties swamped by flooding.

The presidential declaration will make assistance available to homeowners, renters, businesses, public entities and select nonprofit organizations in counties affected by flooding in the Missouri River Valley in western Iowa.

The declaration also will provide assistance in Allamakee, Bremer, Butler, Fayette, Tama and Winneshiek counties in Eastern Iowa.

Gov. Kim Reynolds, who asked the president Thursday to expedite the disaster declaration, said Trump’s “timely action “will be instrumental to Iowa’s recovery” from what is projected to be $1.6 billion in disaster-related damage.

“The road to recovery will be long, but it’s clear that Iowans will have the resources we need to rebuild,” Reynolds said.

She also was notified that the disaster declaration includes funding to conduct hazard mitigation activities for the entire state. That is expected to help Iowa minimize the effect of future disasters through steps to reduce or eliminate long-term risks from natural hazards.

Other counties might be added to the declaration as additional damage is reported.

A “bomb cyclone” storm that struck the Midwest about 11 days ago triggered flooding that saw the Missouri River overflow its banks and breach levees. That sent water spilling across eastern Nebraska and western Iowa. At least four people have been killed and an untold number of livestock lost.

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In her letter to Trump, Reynolds estimated minor and major damage to homes at $481 million, to businesses at $300 million, and to agriculture at $214 million. She noted the loss estimates could grow as the water recedes and officials can enter areas now inaccessible.

As of Thursday, she said, the state has spent $268,355 on items such as lighting and bottled water for safety and public health concerns, and was spending about $25,000 a week on using resources from the Iowa National Guard for potable water systems for a hospital and for schools.

Individuals and business owners who sustained losses may apply for assistance by registering at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-3362 or 1-800-462-7585 TTY. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time), seven days a week, until further notice.

For more information on flood recovery resources available to Iowans, visit www.floods2019.iowa.gov, or contact 2-1-1.

Pete Gaynor, acting administrator of Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Homeland Security, on Saturday named Timothy J. Scranton as the coordinating officer for federal recovery operations in the affected areas.

Damage assessments are continuing, and other areas might be designated for assistance after evaluations are completed.

• Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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