2019 LEGISLATIVE SESSION

Iowa $1.6 billion flood damage estimate 'probably low,' Reynolds says

Some areas still underwater, as state awaits fed decisions

A squad rescues cats left behind in March after the Missouri River flooded homes and farms near Glenwood in southwest Iowa. Gov. Kim Reynolds toured the area Monday with the governor of Missouri and said Tuesday she’ll be talking to legislators this week about how much aid Iowa needs to provide in the wake of historic flooding. (Reuters)
A squad rescues cats left behind in March after the Missouri River flooded homes and farms near Glenwood in southwest Iowa. Gov. Kim Reynolds toured the area Monday with the governor of Missouri and said Tuesday she’ll be talking to legislators this week about how much aid Iowa needs to provide in the wake of historic flooding. (Reuters)

DES MOINES — After another visit to southwest Iowa, Gov. Kim Reynolds says the $1.6 billion presidential disaster declaration probably won’t cover the damage from the major Missouri River flooding last month.

“Honestly, that’s probably low,” Reynolds said Tuesday.

She met with the Missouri governor and representatives of the Departments of Transportation, Natural Resources and Homeland Security, as well as levee trustees in Malvern, on Monday to discuss next steps.

They are looking for ways to expedite short-term responses “so we can get the water drained, get the water treatment facilities up and going, the sewer, get rid of the debris and move forward,” Reynolds said. “So we’re close. We want to get this right.”

She expects to have more information and plans to meet with legislators later this week.

“We’ll sit down with legislators this week and talk about what we think the need is for 2019 and fiscal year 2020 as well,” Reynolds said. “We’re going to act while (legislators) are here. We’re working through what that looks like, what we think is the potential need is.”

However, Reynolds told reporters there are areas where officials can’t assess the full extent of damages. Because of the 53 levee breeches — 48 in Iowa — some areas remain under standing water. One breech, the governor said, is about 70 feet deep and as long as 500 yards.

Among the questions the governor needs answered are how much aid Congress will make available in the 57 counties covered by the presidential disaster declaration.

The federal government is working on a disaster relief package that would send aid to multiple areas hit recently by natural disasters. That package is held up over objections by Democrats that it does not sufficiently assist Puerto Rico, still recovering from Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.

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While the Army Corps of Engineers has funding for the immediate response, Iowa needs Congress to approve supplemental funding.

“We have the disaster declaration, but they need to appropriate the funds,” she said.

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

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