Weeks after derecho, rural Iowans left out of federal response

Small Towns

Cody Smith, policy associate, codys@cfra.org, 402.687.2100 ext. 1016; Teresa Hoffman, policy communications associate, teresah@cfra.org, 402.687.2100 ext. 1012; or Rhea Landholm, brand marketing and communications manager, rheal@cfra.org, 402.687.2100 ext. 1025

NEVADA, IOWA – Three weeks after a devastating derecho storm swept across the state, Iowans in 26 counties are left with no decision on federal relief from the president. Cody Smith, policy associate with the Center for Rural Affairs, says rural residents need this assistance now.

“While many leaders have been praising the president’s ‘full’ and ‘swift’ actions to support the state, thousands of Iowans are still waiting for help as they work to salvage what’s left of their homes, grain bins, crops, and livelihoods,” Smith said.

On Aug. 16, Gov. Kim Reynolds submitted a formal request to the president that totalled $3.99 billion. Of that, $3.77 billion was intended to help farmers recover from crop damage. The governor also requested $45.3 million for public assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and private assistance to Iowans in 27 counties to help them recover from an estimated $82.7 million in damage to homes.

Of the 27 counties requested, only Linn County has been approved for FEMA private assistance. This leaves 26 counties, more than half of which are classified as rural, without federal assistance to remedy property damage, farm equipment losses, and more. In addition, the governor’s $3.77 billion request for relief for crop damage remains unapproved. 

In total, just over 1 percent of the governor’s initial request for assistance has been approved.

“While we appreciate the swift action to approve the public assistance portion of the governor’s request, the bottom line is that only $45.3 million of nearly $4 billion in requested disaster assistance was approved by the president,” Smith said. “The storm may have happened three weeks ago, but Iowans still need help. We call on the president and FEMA to approve the governor’s full request and keep their initially-announced ‘full’ commitment to rural Iowans who needed this assistance weeks ago.”

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