Iowa Gov. Culver: $1.2 Billion in Flood Damages Unmet

July 24, 2008

Iowa Gov. Chet Culver said July 22 that state officials have identified $1.2 billion in flood damage that hasn’t been met by disaster aid, and he’s asking Congress to move quickly to provide more assistance.

Culver pointed to the federal response to Hurricane Katrina and the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 as examples of where Congress set a precedent in how it responds to emergencies.

Officials have estimated that the state suffered about $4 billion in agricultural damage, and another $4 billion in damages to businesses.

The additional $1.2 billion, much of it for housing, takes the overall damage total to nearly $10 billion, making last month’s flooding the largest disaster in state history, Culver said.

The governor spoke with Iowa reporters on a conference call from Washington D.C., where he asked congressional leaders for more disaster assistance.

“We now know that there is more than a billion dollars in unmet needs,” Culver said. “We need a supplemental appropriation as quickly as possible from Congress.”

Congress has already set aside $2.6 billion in flood relief, but Iowa urgently needs another round of aid, the governor said.

“The second round is going to give us a better, more targeted response from Washington,” Culver said. “This housing need is critically important.”

Culver is able to turn to lawmakers who are in positions of power, particularly in the Senate. In addition to chairing the Senate Agriculture Committee, Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin has a senior post on the Appropriations Committee, while Republican Sen. Charles Grassley holds a senior spot on the Senate Finance Committee.

Harkin said he is committed to getting federal resources to families and communities affected by the floods.

“The damage in Iowa is massive, and securing resources for Iowans after this historic crisis is my top priority,” Harkin said.

Grassley said he expects Congress to have the same response as it did following Hurricane Katrina and the terrorist attacks.

“Iowans are hurting and need our help,” Grassley said. “When we put together assistance for New York after 9/11 and Louisiana and the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, we all worked together to get the job done. Now it’s time to help the people of Iowa and we expect the same sort of response.”

In assessing the damage, Culver said he’s worked closely with Federal Emergency Management Agency officials to determine which damages will be covered.

While FEMA officials have indicated future appropriations will be made available for Iowa flood recovery, the $1.2 billion figure is beyond what FEMA indicated will be covered, Culver said.

“That is a number we know right now is above and beyond what FEMA has told us they are going to cover,” said Culver.

As officials focus on funding for flood recovery, Culver said they also are pursuing long-term funding to repair an estimated 1,500 miles of roads that were damaged by flooding.

“We really want to make sure we rebuild our infrastructure,” Culver said.

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