Trump visit to storm-damaged Iowa would be helpful, Sen. Chuck Grassley says

Sen. Chuck Grassley walks along Blake Boulevard SE with staffer Jennifer Hein to view storm damage in Cedar Rapids on Sa
Sen. Chuck Grassley walks along Blake Boulevard SE with staffer Jennifer Hein to view storm damage in Cedar Rapids on Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Visiting Iowa will help President Donald Trump to understand the full extent of the damage an inland hurricane caused and the ongoing recovery efforts in communities across the state, Sen. Chuck Grassley said Monday morning.

After Grassley spoke with The Gazette, a White House official confirmed that Trump will travel Tuesday to Cedar Rapids and meet with Gov. Kim Reynolds to discuss efforts for responding to the Aug. 10 derecho.

Trump also told reporters Monday he had approved Reynolds’ request for a disaster declaration to help the state recover from the storm that caused at least $4 billion in damage.

The damage Grassley saw while touring the state in recent days is unlike anything he’s seen, he told The Gazette on Monday.

“The widespread electrical and communication outages, such damage to crops that I may have seen in a very isolated area in the past, but never from the Missouri River to the Mississippi River,” he said.

Grassley believes the Trump administration is well aware of the damage and Iowans’ needs. He and other Iowa leaders had in-person discussions about the situation with Vice President Mike Pence, who was in Iowa on Thursday, and have been in contact with the president and his staff.

Grassley exchanged text messages Sunday evening with the president’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, regarding Reynolds’ request for a major disaster declaration.

“He said he would do what he could to move it along,” Grassley said.


Reynolds submitted the request for an expedited federal disaster declaration Sunday. According to the application, last week’s derecho caused nearly $4 billion in damage — including $3.77 billion in crop damage in 36 counties. Three deaths, including that of a Solon bicyclist who was caught in the storm that included winds clocked at 140 mph, are attributed to the storm.

Private utilities sustained about $100 million in damage and still are working to restore electricity to Iowans who have been without power for a week. More than 8,200 homes sustained nearly $83 million in damage. Reynolds said there are more than $45 million in public assistance needs for Iowans caught in the storm’s path.

It also will help that Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Peter Gaynor will be in Iowa to meet with Reynolds and other officials to get a firsthand view of the damage, Grassley said.

Grassley and the five other members of the Iowa congressional delegation sent a joint letter of support for the major disaster declaration to the president.

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