Gov. Reynolds pushing feds for flood relief funding, ‘holistic’ approach to levy system fix

Gov. Reynolds pushing feds for flood relief funding, ‘holistic’ approach to levy system fix

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Clark's Landing owner Tony Mendez throws a sandbag away from his front door Tuesday as he begins the task of cleaning up the inside of his restaurant in Buffalo.

DES MOINES — More than 1,800 applications for federal flood relief in Iowa have been received, and more than $12 million in assistance has been approved and distributed, state emergency response officials said Thursday.

The state’s flood recovery advisory board, convened by Gov. Kim Reynolds, met for the second time Thursday at the Iowa Capitol.

The board discussed the latest on flood relief efforts in western Iowa along the Missouri River, and more recently in eastern Iowa, where the Mississippi River this past week breached flood walls in Davenport.

Reynolds said she and Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts have asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to consider a “holistic” approach when repairing and replacing the system of levies along the Missouri River that were breached by flooding in March.

Reynolds said the corps continues working to close breaches and assess the overall damage. The next phase, she said, is to “rehabilitate” the levy system.

“Over and over we have asked them to take a different look at this, a holistic approach,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds’ federal government liaison said she has been told that U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell expects Congress to pass a federal disaster assistance bill --- which would include resources for flood relief in Iowa --- before Congress breaks at the end of the month.

The federal disaster relief bill thus far has been held up over federal lawmakers’ disagreements: Democrats have demanded more funding for hurricane relief for Puerto Rico.

Reynolds said approval by Memorial Day should be in time to help Iowans, given damage assessment is still ongoing. But she and other state and local leaders on the flood recovery board said it was imperative that Congress act.

“We really have to plug the holes on the western side, and they’ve got to really wait for the water to go down on the eastern side. There’s things we can do. But it’s just knowing that (the federal assistance) is coming and that there’s funding allocated,” Reynolds said. “It will go a long way in just easing some of the uncertainty.”

Reynolds said residents and businesses in western Iowa need that certainty as they decide whether to rebuild in an area that has been devastated by flooding twice in the past eight years or move.

“The more that we can demonstrate to them that we’re going to build it better than before, that they are going to be protected moving forward and the funding will be there as well,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds said her staff is working to get more eastern Iowans involved in the flood recovery board after the recent flooding there.


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