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Iowa Governor: Severe Flooding 'Just Getting Started'

flood in hornick
Katie Peikes
Reporters drive down a flooded street in Hornick, Iowa on Sunday, March 17, 2019.

Gov. Kim Reynolds said Tuesday “catastrophic” floodwaters in southwest Iowa have devastated communities and farms in recent days, and there is more to come.

“It’s hard to really describe the devastation that we witnessed,” Reynolds said. “It looked like an ocean. I saw the top of grain bins, we saw buildings flooding…it’s just unbelievable. And that’s people’s lives.”

Reynolds said every levee from Council Bluffs to the Missouri border was compromised.

She said the “perfect storm” of record wetness in Nebraska, a severe storm last week and increased runoff led to flooding worse than a 2011 flood in the same area.

Reynolds said state, local and federal organizations are working together on the Missouri River, and officials are also monitoring the Mississippi River.

“So as we prepare ourselves for the spring thaw and the rains that are going to come, we need to just recognize that we’re just getting started,” Reynolds said. “We’re in this for the long haul.”

Some southwest Iowa residents were evacuated from their homes, and water treatment systems have been threatened. Reynolds said farmers are dealing with flooded grain bins and thousands of dead hogs.

“There is no doubt in my mind that we will recover as a state, and Iowans will rebound stronger than ever,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds was scheduled to meet with Vice President Mike Pence and Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts Tuesday to fly over flooded areas and speak with displaced residents.

She said she expects southwest Iowa will qualify for additional federal aid. Damage estimates and the total number of displaced people were not available Tuesday morning.

Residents of 41 counties can seek assistance under a state disaster proclamation to repair homes and cars, and replace clothing and food.

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter