More than two months after the Missouri River and its tributaries flooded western Iowa, many people in southwest Iowa are still out of their homes. Former Maryland Congressman and Democratic presidential candidate John Delaney toured a flood-damaged home on Tuesday and is touting policies to deal with climate change.
To prevent mold from growing, Jason and Fran Parr have already torn out walls and insulation of their home in the Pacific Junction area. They told Delaney their home’s future is up in the air.
“We’re preserving the option to rebuild,” Fran Parr said. “That’s all we’re doing is we’re preserving.”
The Parrs and their twin 4-year-old sons live about three miles from the Missouri River. They did not have flood insurance and since they don’t live in the floodplain, flooding was “the last thing on [their] minds,” they said.
But when a mix of rain, snowmelt, frozen ground and a rapid warming event triggered major to historic flooding across the Midwest in March, water reached about 9 feet high in their home.
The Parrs were evacuated for over a month and even though evacuations have been lifted across Mills County, many homes are still inaccessible and the damage is extensive. The family has been staying in Council Bluffs.
“How much of your personal belongings were you able to get out?” Delaney asked them.
“Three miles away from the river, [we thought] ‘it’s only going to be a foot deep, we don’t want to take everything’," Jason Parr said. “So we got things with motors. We got my tractor out, we got a truck out, we got a couple welders…”
“You get family mementos out, that kind of stuff?” Delaney asked.
The Parrs said they took a wedding photo with them. They stored a lot of things upstairs, which was “unscathed," they said.
After the brief tour of the Parr household, Delaney spoke with reporters and acknowledged the scale of the devastation, calling it “enormous.” The former congressman is one of a handful of presidential candidates pointing at climate change as a factor in the flooding.
Delaney says climate change will make flooding more frequent and more severe and he believes it will leave future generations with an unpayable debt.
“The fact that we haven’t dealt with it, the fact that we haven’t taken any affirmative steps I think is putting the next generation in a position where they’re going to have to deal with something that they’re really not going to be able to deal with,” Delaney said. “So I will deal with that as president.”
He said he is a proponent of investing in more "weather and climate resilient infrastructure" to better manage flooding and other disasters.
“And I’d be saying the same thing if I was in a coastal Florida community because they’re going to have to deal with this for really, decades, because of what we haven’t dealt with in the past,” Delaney said.
Delaney has rolled out a plan that puts a price on carbon and aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than 90 percent by 2050.
Delaney’s visit to the Parr home is one of several stops he is making this week on a three-day swing through Iowa. He plans to visit 11 counties during this trip.