IOWA DERECHO 2020

FEMA aid for homeowners in derecho to be approved by Trump on Thursday, Gov. Reynolds says

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks during a news conference at the Iowa National Guard Armory in Cedar Rapids on Monday, Aug.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks during a news conference at the Iowa National Guard Armory in Cedar Rapids on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

Gov. Kim Reynolds said President Donald Trump is expected Thursday to approve federal disaster recovery aid for households hurt by the derecho that ripped across Iowa over a week ago.

Reynolds requested nearly $4 billion in federal aid to deal with property and crop damage, and on Monday Trump approved a portion of that aid — about $45 million in public assistance, which includes debris removal and repair to government buildings and utilities.

Reynolds said Trump will approve the request for help for homeowners, about $82.7 million, on Thursday.

“It’s at the White House, so by end of day — hopefully even before lunch — we should have a signoff on that,” Reynolds said Thursday morning during a news conference.

Reynolds filed an expedited presidential major disaster declaration on Sunday seeking nearly $4 billion — including $3.77 billion to cover damage to corn and soybeans in 36 Iowa counties hit hard last week when a derecho with hurricane-grade wind gusts topping 100 mph destroyed or extensively damaged at least 8,273 homes at an estimated costs of $82.7 million. The request to cover crop damage also has not been approved.

Reynolds on Thursday praised the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Homeland Security for working around the clock and expediting the request in a timely manner.

Reynolds on Thursday also commended the work of crews restoring power and removing debris.

“Restoring power continues to be a priority and a lot of progress has been made that there still is quite a bit of work left to do,” she said. “ ... Alliant is working to divide the city into quadrants so we can just have a better understanding of where the really tough areas are and so we can help get necessary supplies to individuals who are still without power.”

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The Iowa National Guard has been working with Alliant in Linn County to remove debris so utility crews can make electrical repairs, Reynolds said, asking residents to not stack new debris in the areas being cleared by the National Guard.

“They have been encountering a situation where they have been eliminating debris but then new debris has been put back into those areas that have been cleared. So we want to get the message out to people that when the Iowa National Guard or Alliant has cleared the debris in your area, please don’t refill it with new debris until the power has been restored to you and your neighbors,” she said.

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