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Gov. Kim Reynolds seeks USDA disaster designation for 57 counties hit by derecho

Damaged corn is seen Thursday near Mount Vernon. About a third of Iowa's corn crop was destroyed in the Aug. 10 derecho
Damaged corn is seen Thursday near Mount Vernon. About a third of Iowa’s corn crop was destroyed in the Aug. 10 derecho that produced 140 mph winds throughout central and eastern Iowa (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

DES MOINES — Gov. Kim Reynolds has formally requested a Secretarial Disaster Designation from U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue for 57 Iowa counties where farmers experienced severe damage to their crops, buildings and equipment in the Aug. 10 derecho.

The federal agricultural designation, which is in addition to the presidential disaster designation Reynolds has requested, would allow Iowa producers to access U.S. Department of Agriculture disaster programs, her office said.

USDA officials have estimated 3.57 million acres of corn and 2.5 million acres of soybeans in Iowa were affected in 36 hardest-hit counties for an estimated loss of $3.77 billion. Millions more acres are affected to varying degrees.

“The derecho storm dealt another gut punch to Iowa farmers, wiping out whole fields, demolishing grain bins and other farm buildings,” Reynolds said in a statement issued Friday.

“Iowa farmers serve as a critical anchor for the entire world’s food supply, and it’s critical they have our support,” she added.

“I spoke with Secretary Perdue earlier this week and regularly engage with the Trump administration to ensure their voices are heard as we continue to secure federal assistance.”

The derecho had severe winds in excess of 100 mph and swept across much of central and eastern Iowa, causing widespread damage and power outages.

If approved, the USDA secretarial designation would enable Iowa producers in designated counties and all contiguous counties to immediately access low-interest Farm Service Agency emergency loans, according to the governor’s office. Other USDA programs are contingent upon the designation, as well.

The counties in the request are: Adair, Audubon, Benton, Black Hawk, Boone, Buchanan, Calhoun, Carroll, Cass, Cedar, Cherokee, Clinton, Crawford, Dallas, Delaware, Des Moines, Dubuque, Greene, Grundy, Guthrie, Hamilton, Hardin, Harrison, Henry, Ida, Iowa, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Johnson, Jones, Keokuk, Lee, Linn, Louisa, Madison, Mahaska, Marion, Marshall, Monona, Monroe, Muscatine, Plymouth, Polk, Pottawattamie, Poweshiek, Sac, Scott, Shelby, Story, Tama, Van Buren, Wapello, Warren, Washington, Webster and Woodbury.

On Sunday, Reynolds formally requested an expedited Presidential Major Disaster Declaration for Iowa communities and counties that were severely affected by the derecho.

President Donald Trump initially approved a public assistance request topping $45 million, and Thursday he granted funding under the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Individual Assistance Program for Linn County. Disaster assessments for other requested counties are ongoing.

Overall, Reynolds’ request for an expedited federal disaster declaration to aid ravaged Iowa counties set preliminary damage at nearly $4 billion — including $3.77 million in crop damage in 36 counties.

According to Iowa officials, the unprecedented weather event also caused about $100 million in damage to private utilities, as well as an estimated $82.73 million to at least 8,273 homes that were destroyed or severely damaged, and nearly $45.3 million in public assistance needs for Iowans caught in the storm’s path.

Of the nearly $45.3 million request, $21.6 million could cover debris removal, $14.46 million for utilities and $7.53 million for buildings.

Comments: (515) 243-7220; rod.boshart@thegazette.com

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