Des Moines Register: Rep. Cindy Axne requests more funding for federal disaster relief programs after flooding
Robin Opsahl, Des Moines Register, March 26, 2019
Rep. Cindy Axne said Iowa needs more federal funding to help with flood relief in a House floor speech Tuesday.
The Iowa Democrat said flooding in the state has impacted rural communities, with potentially more damages to come. She displayed a photo of the front page of the Des Moines Register, which featured a photo of flooded Pacific Junction.
"Entire small towns, such as Hamburg, in Fremont County, and Pacific Junction, shown here, in Mills County, are underwater and facing irreparable damages," she said.
Along with her speech, Axne submitted a letter to the House Appropriations Committee requesting supplemental disaster funding.
"With an early estimate of $1.59 billion dollars of assistance requested, I am seeking a robust increase in all federal disaster programs. We cannot allow funding to lapse, expire or be insufficient for all those who have been impacted," she wrote to her colleagues.
Gov. Kim Reynolds estimated flooding damages at $1.6 billion on Friday, with expectations for the total cost of the disaster to increase as further assessments are made. Further warming or rain could also cause more flooding, Axne said.
The letter did not specify how much additional money Axne was requesting be allocated to the federal government's disaster relief programs.
"I'm grateful that the president declared a disaster emergency declaration to support efforts to guarantee public safety and rapid recovery," Axne said. "But given the impact of this flooding and it was mainly in smaller, rural communities, the assistance needed to ensure these communities recover is dramatic."
The requested additional funding through the appropriations committee would increase disaster relief funding for the fiscal year 2020 budget, ensuring Iowa and other states impacted by flooding, like Nebraska, would have long-term access to assistance toward rebuilding their communities.
“There are huge concerns right now over how flooding will permanently affect rural communities," Madeleine Russak, a spokesperson for Axne told the Register. "We need to make sure disaster relief programs don’t run out of funding before these communities are able to rebuild.”
In addition to the appropriations request, Russak said the House may also vote on a 2019 supplemental disaster relief bill in the next few weeks to help with disaster relief agencies' short-term needs.