Government

Reynolds seeking federal aid for Iowa flooding

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters during a news conference where she provided updates on state plans to assist Iowans dealing with flooding on Tuesday, March 19, 2019, at the Iowa Capitol in Des Moines. (Erin Murphy/Gazette-Lee Des Moines Bureau)
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters during a news conference where she provided updates on state plans to assist Iowans dealing with flooding on Tuesday, March 19, 2019, at the Iowa Capitol in Des Moines. (Erin Murphy/Gazette-Lee Des Moines Bureau)

DES MOINES — Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds described the devastation she witnessed, expressed her admiration for Iowans’ resiliency, and assured people facing the devastating floods that her administration is doing everything it can to provide assistance.

Much of western and northern Iowa is experiencing significant flooding after what Reynolds said was “a perfect storm” of intense snow and rain followed by rising temperatures that caused snow to melt and runoff over still-frozen ground.

The flooding has particularly devastated some communities along the Missouri River, where several levees have been compromised by the rising waters.

“It’s hard to really describe the devastation that we witnessed. It looked like an ocean,” Reynolds said Tuesday during a news conference at the Iowa Capitol. She toured flood-damaged western Iowa on Monday. “It’s just unbelievable, and that’s people’s lives. Those are fifth-generation farms, those are businesses, communities.”

Reynolds has issued a state disaster declaration for 41 of the state’s 99 counties, mostly in western and northern Iowa. She said she expects more declarations in the coming days and weeks.

Reynolds was scheduled to meet Tuesday with Vice President Mike Pence and Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts to participate in a flyover of the flood damage on both sides of the Missouri River.

Reynolds has asked for a federal disaster declaration as well, and she said she is confident Iowa will qualify.

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“This is all hands on deck: federal, state and local,” Reynolds said, adding she is hopeful federal assistance will be approved quickly.

Joyce Flinn, administrator of the state’s emergency management division, described the flooding as “truly catastrophic” and worse than Iowa flooding in 2011.

Reynolds warned more flooding could be on the way as the spring thaw is only just beginning. But she also praised the spirit of many Iowans she has met as they hope to bounce back from the devastation.

“They’ve not lost their fight, and they don’t know how to give up,” Reynolds said. “They are and we are still in the fight.”

State assistance for Iowans in counties under a disaster declaration includes grants for home or car repairs, temporary housing costs and replacing clothes or food. Iowans can apply for assistance at the state’s human services department website at dhs.iowa.gov/disaster-assistance-programs.

Counties under state disaster declaration:

• Adair

• Bremer

• Buena Vista

• Butler

• Cerro Gordo

• Cherokee

• Clay

• Clayton

• Crawford

• Dallas

• Delaware

• Dickinson

• Emmet

• Fayette

• Franklin

• Fremont

• Guthrie

• Hancock

• Hardin

• Harrison

• Humboldt

• Ida

• Iowa

• Kossuth

• Mills

• Monona

• Montgomery

• O’Brien

• Page

• Palo Alto

• Plymouth

• Pottawattamie

• Shelby

• Sioux

• Tama

• Webster

• Winnebago

• Winneshiek

• Woodbury

• Worth

• Wright

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