Congressman Steve King (R-Iowa) while addressing severe flooding in Western Iowa during a town hall meeting in Charter Oak on Thursday, compared those impacted by the 2019 floods with victims of Hurricane Katrina.
“We are Iowans and I am always proud of our reaction to this,” King said.
He noted that he was familiar with FEMA and made four trips to New Orleans to see the impact of that 2005 hurricane that took more than 1500 lives.
“But here is what FEMA tells me. We go to a place like New Orleans and everybody is looking around saying, ‘who is going to help me? Who is going to help me?'” King stated.
“We go to a place like Iowa and we go, we go see, knock at a door, I’ll make up a name, John’s place and say, ‘John, you got water in your basement, we can write you a check, we can help you.’ And John will say, ‘Well, wait a minute, let me get my boots. It’s Joe that needs help. Let’s go down to his place and help him,’” King noted.
He added that FEMA is “always gratified when they come and see Iowans take care of each other, and so that’s a point of pride that spreads across the country everywhere that I know.”
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has asked for federal assistance for 57 counties in Iowa that have experienced flooding requesting an expedited “major disaster” proclamation from President Donald Trump. The projected impact on the state in these counties is $1.6 Billion. Reynolds has issued a disaster proclamation for 46 counties in Iowa.
U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Congresswoman Cindy Axne (D-Iowa), Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer (D-Iowa), Congressman Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa), and King have expressed support for Reynolds’ request.
Both Democrat and Republican elected officials in Louisiana have criticized King for the comparison. One of King’s primary challengers, Bret Richards, said the comparison to Hurricane Katrina continues to divide Americans and could hurt Midwest flood relief efforts unnecessarily.
“My thought is, ‘What does that comparison have to do with the recovery efforts in Iowa and Nebraska? I look at the videos and photos and see the positive of Iowans and Nebraskans helping each other, but I know there were innumerable stories of Katrina victims doing the same thing,” Richards said.
He continued, “Unfortunately, those remarks go to the heart of his effectiveness in representing us. First, flooding in Iowa is so widespread and destructive that many communities, businesses and individuals are going to need federal assistance. If the message is that ‘we take care of ourselves,’ why would the federal government put its full force behind a relief effort?
“Second, members of Congress from states hit by Katrina certainly are even less likely to work with our current congressman and help Iowans in need after he has criticized them and their constituents? Congressman King’s remarks draw a clear distinction between how I would represent Iowa values in D.C.,” Richards concluded.