Derecho damage in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Photo Credit: FEMA Director Pete Gaynor (Public Domain)

DES MOINES, Iowa – On Monday, President Donald Trump declared that a major disaster exists in the State of Iowa and ordered federal assistance to supplement state and local recovery efforts in areas impacted by the devastating derecho storm on Monday, August 10, 2020.

The disaster declaration releases federal funding for state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the derecho. 

Benton, Boone, Cedar, Clinton, Dallas, Jasper, Johnson, Jones, Linn, Marshall, Muscatine, Polk, Poweshiek, Scott, Story, and Tama counties are included in the declaration.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide. 

The major disaster declaration precedes Trump’s visit to Iowa. On Tuesday morning, he landed in Cedar Rapids to see storm damage first hand.

Gov. Kim Reynolds made a formal request for an expedited disaster declaration from Trump on Sunday, supported by Iowa’s Congressional delegation.

Pete Gaynor, the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), named DuWayne Tewes as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected areas.

Damage assessments are continuing in other areas, and additional counties and additional forms of assistance may be designated for assistance after the assessments are fully completed.

U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, welcomed the news. 

“I’ve seen firsthand the heartbreaking damage to farms, businesses, homes and infrastructure across Iowa. I’ve also seen neighbor helping neighbor and believe we will get through this together. I’m working with Governor Reynolds, Senator Ernst and the rest of the Iowa delegation to make sure Iowa gets all the help it needs. I support Governor Reynolds’ major disaster declaration request and commend President Trump’s swift approval of this much-needed federal assistance,” Grassley said.

“The derecho that hit our state has devastated Iowans and our communities—taking lives and causing significant damage to both public infrastructure and private property and leaving many without power. I’ve seen the devastation firsthand, and will continue to do so this week,” Ernst said. “It’s clear Iowa needs assistance from the federal government. That’s why I’m grateful to Governor Reynolds and her team for pulling together damage assessment within days and submitting the request for a presidential major disaster declaration, and the president working swiftly to approve it.”

U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, said that the disaster declaration was incomplete.

“Like many others across our state, I took the President at his word yesterday when he announced he had approved ‘the full emergency declaration’ for Iowa to unlock the federal resources necessary to aid recovery efforts from last week’s derecho,” she said.

“It is unacceptable that portions of this federal aid are still under review, including funds that will help Iowans deal with damage at their homes – especially as access to safe shelter remains a critical priority during the ongoing public health crisis.

“I am grateful that the President has quickly approved a portion of this disaster declaration, but urge him to commit any and all additional manpower and resources necessary to complete these reviews and approve this aid. The families in Iowa who have lost their homes, power, and massive sections of their harvests cannot afford any unnecessary delay,” Axne added.

On Monday, Reynolds held a press conference in Cedar Rapids with Gaynor about federal and state assistance in helping Iowans recover.

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