Government

Months after major flooding hit Iowa, aid questions remain

'It's frustrating' at times, Kim Reynolds tells flood recovery advisory board

Water still stands Tuesday, June 18, inside the Credit Island Lodge in Davenport after a devastating three-month-long record flood by the Mississippi River. (John Schultz/Quad-City Times)
Water still stands Tuesday, June 18, inside the Credit Island Lodge in Davenport after a devastating three-month-long record flood by the Mississippi River. (John Schultz/Quad-City Times)
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DES MOINES — Three months later, many questions remain as state leaders try to help Iowans navigate state and federal flood relief programs.

Gov. Kim Reynolds’ flood recovery advisory board met Wednesday at the Iowa Capitol to discuss the state’s latest flood relief efforts.

Some board members said individuals affected by severe flooding in western Iowa near the Missouri River still have questions about the programs and funding designed to help them recover.

Reynolds said her administration and Iowa’s congressional delegation continue to work with federal disaster relief agencies to get the assistance where it’s needed.

“I know a lot of this is fluid and I know a lot of times it’s frustrating,” Reynolds said to fellow flood recovery board members during Wednesday’s meeting. “I don’t think we’re unique. I think that tends to be part of the process.

“But we are determined to just plow through that and start knocking down barriers as much as we can and do everything we can to simplify the process.”

One example discussed was confusion over the parameters for a program designed to help people displaced by flooding. Board members said federal officials have asked whether individuals displaced by flooding feel safe where they are staying, and those who say they feel safe are not offered temporary housing.

But, board members noted, people displaced by flooding may feel safe while staying temporarily at the home of a relative or friend, but would prefer to live in temporary housing closer to home.

Beth Townsend, director of the state’s workforce development department, noted many homeowners may not understand what they should consider when deciding whether to renovate or rebuild their flood-damaged property. She said the department, in conjunction with Iowa State University, is planning a town hall July 2 in Glenwood to inform people what they should be considering when making that decision.

“We’re trying to solve problems as they come up,” Townsend said.

Reynolds said one bit of good news received Wednesday was that the federal government extended the time period that covers flood relief requests.

With the extension, damage that occurred as a result of flooding between May 12 and June 15 is eligible for federal assistance.

Previously, the cutoff was May 16. Rain that fell the following day added to the issues in the flood-damaged region, Reynolds said.

Reynolds called the extension “really good news. So we’re not starting over and going through all the paperwork and just delaying getting counties hopefully on the public assistance, possibly the individual assistance.”

Currently, 71 counties are eligible for public assistance, and nine are eligible for federal individual assistance. Those counties are listed at floods2019.iowa.gov.

l Comments: (563) 383-2492; erin.murphy@lee.net

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