Iowa delegation calls for more help as Derecho takeover reaches first anniversary

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The echo storm that mowed down a wide swath of Iowa corn and chopped down thousands of trees a year ago has elected officials wondering when the state will fully recover from the devastation.

Democratic Senate Leader Zach Wahls was unable to make a prediction on Tuesday, the first anniversary of one of the country’s most violent internal storms.

“It was a really stressful time. I mean, you’re in the middle of a global pandemic, and on top of that you’ve got this major natural disaster, ”said Wahls, D-Coralville.

“I think it’s very clear that the state government has more to do. I think it’s impossible at this point to give you an exact timeline, per se, but I think… we’re going to continue to have more to do in the years to come, ”Wahls added.

Members of the Iowa congressional delegation said they were pushing for more federal aid through a series of budget maneuvers and amendments.

Sense. Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley, the two Republicans, posted videos marking the grim anniversary of what the National Weather Service has called America’s most devastating storm.

“Last year’s derecho was the costliest indoor weather disaster in US history,” Grassley said.

The storm, which caused $ 11 billion in damage to the Midwest, leveled a quarter Iowa’s sparse forest land, destroying half of the tree canopy in Cedar Rapids. The storm also destroyed 850,000 acres of crops.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig takes a tour of crop damage after an August 10 echo storm in Iowa. (Photo courtesy of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship)

The storm crossed 770 miles of the Midwest, hitting eight states and killing four people in 14 hours, the National Weather Service reported.

“Today there is still a long way to go for the many affected,” Ernst said. “But through it all, I have been moved by the moving spirit of the people of Iowa and encouraged by the resilience that our communities have demonstrated.”

Grassley and Ernst worked with the rest of the Iowa delegation to increase help for victims of derecho.

United States Representative Cindy Axne of District D-3 said the goal was to increase disaster relief payments to farmers who lost crops in the storm. The House Agriculture Committee passed a bill that would authorize up to $ 8.5 billion to cover farm losses in natural disasters over the past two years.

“It will make all the difference,” said Axne in a declaration.

In a editorial in the Cedar Rapids Gazette, US Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-1st District, recalled the fear she and her family felt when “Earth Hurricane” spent 45 minutes of her 14 hour blitz ravaging Cedar Rapids . The city, like others across the country, had to contend with store closures and other fallout from the coronavirus pandemic before the storm made life even more miserable.

“A year later, we’re still in the middle of a difficult recovery process,” Hinson wrote. “Almost every organization, business, farmer and family I speak to is still grappling with damage from derecho. “

Hinson: Iowans are still waiting for federal aid

And many still are waiting for federal aid.

“Current estimates indicate that only 15% of Individual Assistance requests related to derecho have been approved. Many of those who applied are still waiting for a response from FEMA or have simply given up on dealing with the bureaucracy, ”Hinson wrote.

Rep Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-2nd District, wrote on her Facebook page: “Last year’s derecho hit producers and families in Iowa hard. While there is good bipartisan work going on in Congress, we must continue to work to support our farmers affected by this disaster. “

Rep Randy Feenstra, R-4th District, said Raccoon Valley Radio that the work to increase federal aid to help the recovery of derecho is bipartisan: disaster areas occurred in 2020. “



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