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Iowa Governor Establishes Flood Recovery Advisory Board

governor reynolds
John Pemble
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynold announces a flood recovery advisory board at the Iowa Capitol Monday, April 15, 2019.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds established a flood recovery advisory board Monday and called on lawmakers to set aside state funding to address catastrophic flooding that hit southwest Iowa over a month ago.

“Sometimes it can take months to years for FEMA and other federal funding to be made available to Iowans impacted by the flood,” Reynolds said. “And we know that these communities and Iowans can’t afford to wait.”

Federal disaster aid for Iowa and other Midwest states is held up in the U.S. Senate as part of a larger relief package for hurricane damage in Puerto Rico.

Reynolds asked lawmakers at the Iowa Capitol to appropriate $15 million from the current fiscal year’s ending balance to help pay for flood control infrastructure repairs. She also asked for $10 million in the next fiscal year starting July 1 for workforce housing tax credits to accelerate housing improvements in affected areas.

Reynolds also said the flood recovery advisory board is formalizing some of the work that’s already been happening.

“We are in for a long haul here. Iowans, farmers, businesses, communities are so vulnerable because 250 miles of levee have been compromised,” Reynolds said Monday on IPR’s River to River. “There are so many different buckets that we can get funding from, and we want to make sure we’re coordinating that and being strategic.”

The state previously estimated the Missouri River flood caused $1.6 billion of damage. But Reynolds said as water flows out and all of the damage is assessed, the full cost of damage will likely exceed the estimate. 

Rep. David Sieck, R-Glenwood, said the funding proposed by Reynolds is a good start. And he said the board she’s creating will be “a great asset.”

“I also think it’ll get to the crux of how we fix this stuff, and she’s said over and over again we’re going to fix this so it doesn’t happen again,” Sieck said.

Sen. Jackie Smith, D-Sioux City, said she had proposed nearly $10 million more for the flood mitigation fund, as well as millions more for other recovery efforts. But she said that proposal was aimed at getting the conversation started.

“Flooding seems to happen more often in the past 10 or 15 years than what it should, so going forward, and getting us all on the same page is really going to take everyone—both sides of the aisle,” Smith said.

Smith also said climate change needs to be addressed under long-term flood mitigation.

Lawmakers are expected to consider Reynolds’ funding requests as they complete the state budget process over the next few weeks.

On this "legislative day" edition of River to River, co-hosts Ben Kieffer and Katarina Sostaric are joined by: 

  • Sen. Jackie Smith, D-Sioux City
  • Rep. David Sieck, R-Glenwood
  • Gov. Kim Reynolds
  • Ted Treckfuss, Army Corps of Engineers Deputy District Engineer of the Omaha District
  • Doug Mayo, displaced resident of Pacific Junction
Katelyn Harrop is a producer for IPR's River to River and Talk of Iowa
Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River