Axne Requests Funding for Specific Recovery Programs in Iowa

April 5, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Following a request to House and Senate leadership to immediately pass a disaster supplemental appropriations bill, Rep. Axne called for funding for specific federal relief programs for Iowa. In a letter sent today to House appropriators, Rep. Axne identified specific programs to help Iowa recover from the estimated $1.57 billion in damages. Additionally, Rep. Axne requested Congress identify ways to improve communication and notification systems with the Army Corp of Engineers and Iowa communities.

“The people of Iowa are in a grave hour of need; we must respond to their calls for help with effective and expedient solutions. Specifically, I am requesting House appropriators fund important disaster recovery programs that will cover the initial estimate of $1.57 billion dollars in damage, with the understanding that more disaster relief funding will be needed once damage assessments are complete,” wrote Rep. Axne.

Full text of the letter is available below.  

April 5th, 2019

The Honorable Nita Lowey                                                      

Chairwoman                                                                             

Committee on Appropriations                                                  

H-307 The Capitol                                                                    

Washington, D.C. 20515   

 

The Honorable Kay Granger

Ranking Member

Committee on Appropriations

1016 Longworth House Office Building,

Washington, D.C. 20515

 

The Honorable Sanford Bishop         

Chairman                                                                   

Agriculture Subcommittee                                                     

House Appropriations Committee                                            

Washington, DC 20515    

                                                        

The Honorable Jeff Fortenberry

Ranking Member              

Agriculture Subcommittee

House Appropriations Committee

Washington, DC 20515

 

Dear Chairwoman Lowey, Ranking Member Granger, Chairman Bishop, and Ranking Member Fortenberry,

Iowa is suffering from devastating flood damage and we cannot afford to wait. As House Appropriators consider another disaster supplemental appropriations bill, I encourage you to include midwestern flooding, including the devastating flooding in Iowa, as part of the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program (WHIP).

Early estimates from Governor Reynolds indicate at least $214 million in agriculture-specific damage. Until flood waters recede, we will not know the true extent of loss in this critical sector. To provide immediate assistance to farmers, I am requesting funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program and the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP). Iowans will need the financial and technical assistance provided in these programs to repair levees and dams, stabilize roads and bridges, and remove debris.

Further, I am requesting USDA programs covering crop losses be funded to the fullest extent possible. I am seeking statutory language changes be made in order to cover damage to grain bins and stored grain under federal insurance programs. Without this necessary change, farmers who lost their stored grain could lose hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars. Many cannot survive that financial loss, especially when coupled with the loss of ability to plant crops during the 2019 season due to flooded fields and debris.

I am requesting funding for the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration Program and the Legal Services Corporation. Both programs will assist our small businesses who have suffered catastrophic losses. Wherever possible, I request that funding be placed into grant programs over loan programs. Given the extent of the damage to our small, rural communities, loan programs are not the most effective solution for rebuilding our communities.

At the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, I am requesting additional funding for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Health Surveillance and Program Support, the Children and Families Social Services Block Grant, and the ACF Children and Families Services Programs. The health impacts on our communities are immeasurable, and these important health service programs will assist Iowans in coping and rebuilding their lives.

I am also seeking additional funding for the Army Corps of Engineers, while at the same time requesting reporting language that the Army Corps must inform Congress of communication errors. This important funding will be used to repair, restore, and raise levees where needed, but it is not a blank check; I am seeking to hold Army Corp accountable for a less than adequate notification system for communities that were impacted. Early estimates from Iowa Governor Reynolds’ list 70 miles of impacted levees that will cost $175 million. Additionally, non-federal levees spanning 175 miles have been compromised at an estimated $1.587 billion dollars in damage. Given the extent of the flooding, these early damage assessment numbers are only an estimate. It is possible that additional funding will be required once assessments have been completed.

I am requesting that Community Development Block Grants be increased and funded at the highest levels possible. With an estimated $300 million in business damages, $417 million in “minor” home damages, and $64 million in major home damages, communities need these block grants in order to rebuild entire communities. Towns such as Pacific Junction were still recovering from a flooding event in 2011, only to see catastrophic loss yet again this spring.

I appreciate your full and serious consideration of these necessary requests. The people of Iowa are in a grave hour of need; we must respond to their calls for help with effective and expedient solutions. Specifically, I am requesting House appropriators fund important disaster recovery programs that will cover the initial estimate of $1.57 billion dollars in damage, with the understanding that more disaster relief funding will be needed once damage assessments are complete.

 

Sincerely,