Trump approves Iowa disaster declaration, will visit today |

Trump approves Iowa disaster declaration, will visit today

President Donald Trump on Monday approved a disaster declaration for Iowa after destruction caused by a derecho windstorm last week, and he visited Cedar Rapids, the center of the damage.

Trump, who traveled to Minnesota and Wisconsin Monday, hinted that he might pay a surprise visit that day, but White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said arranging a visit that quickly proved impossible.

The president declared that a major disaster exists in the state of Iowa and ordered federal assistance to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by severe storms on Aug. 10, 2020, the White House said in a news release.

Federal funding is available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe storm in the counties of Benton, Boone, Cedar, Clinton, Dallas, Jasper, Johnson, Jones, Linn, Marshall, Muscatine, Polk, Poweshiek, Scott, Story, and Tama, the White House said.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst of Iowa applauded Trump’s “swift” approval of Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds’ request for a major disaster declaration.

Grassley and Ernst had led the Iowa delegation in urging the president to expedite a review and approve the request, which Reynolds assembled.

Grassley told reporters early Monday that when he toured the disaster area he had “never seen corn flattened as much as it was” and never seen a city as devastated as Cedar Rapids, and that grain bins were flattened.

“Thankfully 90% of Iowa farmland is covered with crop insurance,” Grassley said.

The derecho with hurricane-force wind gusts exceeding 100 miles per hour destroyed or extensively damaged 8,200 homes and 13 million acres of corn, about a third of the state’s crop land, Reynolds said, according to a CBS News report.

Reynolds said she was seeking $4 billion in disaster aid, but Grassley said that it will take a long time to develop an accurate assessment of the damage.

Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig, a Republican, said Monday that the Agriculture Department’s Risk Management Agency had reported 57 counties in Iowa were in the path of the storm.

Within those 57 counties, there are approximately 14 million acres of insured crops. This includes 8.2 million acres of corn and 5.6 million acres of soybeans that may have been impacted by the storm.

Naig also said the state has lost tens of millions of bushels of grain storage just a few weeks before harvest begins.

“This is a devastating blow to the agricultural community that is still recovering from the pandemic,” Naig said. ❖