Braley, Culver make appearls to Bush before visit

As you may know, President Bush is due here tomorrow (Thursday, June 19, 2008) to visit flood-damaged areas of eastern Iowa.  Yesterday, Senator Tom Harkin had some nice things to say about the way the Bush Administration was handling the disaster.

Three Democrats — Governor Chet Culver, Congressman Dave Loebsack and Congresman Bruce Braley of Waterloo — have issued statements in advance, as has Republican Congressman Steve King of Kiron.  Read all the news releases, pasted below.

UPDATE:  Iowa’s two U.S. senators just issued a joint statement, which is below as well.

News release: Braley Pushes President to Visit Rural Towns Impacted by Flooding During Thursday Visit

Sends Letter to Bush Requesting He Tour First District Flooding

Washington, DC – Late yesterday, Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) sent a letter to President George Bush requesting that, during his tour of flood-ravaged areas in Iowa on Thursday, he visit rural communities impacted by the Flood of 2008.

Braley noted in the letter, “while the flood damage to small towns and farms has received less media attention [than the devastation in bigger cities], the degree of the devastation is no less severe.”

Braley continued, “while you are in Iowa, I strongly encourage you to stop in Waterloo, Cedar Falls, and in one of the many rural towns affected by flooding in the First District.”

The text of the letter follows:

June 17, 2008

President George W. Bush

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Bush:

As you are aware, the state of Iowa has been hit hard in the past few weeks by devastating flooding that’s impacted nearly every county in the state.  (See attached summary of affected communities in Iowa’s First District.) 

Not only have several major cities across the state been severely affected by the record floods, but dozens of small, rural communities have suffered major damage.  Additionally, thousands of acres of Iowa farmland have suffered tremendous damage at a critical moment in the growing season. 

I represent thousands of people impacted by flooding in the First Congressional District—in big cities and small towns alike.  And while the flood damage to small towns and farms has received less media attention, the degree of the devastation is no less severe.   

I understand that you are planning on visiting Iowa this Thursday to view areas impacted by the floods.  While you are in Iowa, I strongly encourage you to stop in Waterloo, Cedar Falls and in one of the many rural towns affected by flooding in the First District. 

Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to working with you to provide relief to Iowans suffering from this disaster.


Bruce Braley

Member of Congress


Washington, DC – Congressman Dave Loebsack released the following statement after being invited to personally help show President George W. Bush tomorrow, Thursday, June 19, 2008 the devastating effects the recent floods have had on the communities, residents, and businesses of the Second District.

“On Monday, after learning of the President’s plans to visit the Midwest to personally assess the damage caused by the recent floods, I immediately sent the President a letter urging him to visit the Second Congressional District.  Many of the counties I proudly represent have been some of the hardest hit by the record high flood water.

“I am pleased to be joining the President tomorrow as he visits the District to review the damage that has occurred, the magnitude of the recovery effort that will be required to rebuild, and the significant impact these floods have had on my constituents, some of whom have not yet been able to return to their flooded homes and businesses to assess the extent of their personal loss. 

“The people of Iowa have displayed a strong spirit and resiliency during this disaster, and I am certain President Bush will recognize our community’s eagerness to rebuild, move forward, and thrive once again.  I am also confident the President will understand the need for the Federal government to be a helpful partner in this ongoing effort, and I look forward to working with him to provide the relief necessary to all of those affected by the flooding.”


JOHNSTON – Today, Governor Chet Culver called on the Federal Government to approve three requests which will help Iowans as they begin to recover from this year’s severe weather.  The Governor made the requests earlier this week as flood waters continued to inundate many parts of the state. 

“As Governor, I am committed to doing whatever it takes to help rebuild our state,” said Governor Culver.  “Over the past three weeks, I have seen the strength and resilience of Iowans first hand.  I know we can meet the challenges that this year’s severe weather has created, but we can’t do it alone.  That is why I have made these requests to the Federal Government, and it is my hope that they will expedite their approval.  With a coordinated effort on the local, state and federal levels, I know we can rebuild the Great State of Iowa – stronger and better than before.”

The first request from the Governor asked the Federal government to cover 100% of the costs associated with debris removal and emergency response activities associated with the flooding. Traditionally, these costs are shared between federal, state, and local governments, with 75% covered by the federal government and the remaining costs split 10% state and 15% local. Governor Culver made this request due to the magnitude of the flooding disaster, the tremendous costs associated with both response and recover, and the outstanding work by local and state responders to protect Iowans and their property. The Governor requested a 60 day waiver on these costs.

In addition, Governor Culver requested a $17 million National Emergency Grant through the U.S. Department of Labor to assist with putting unemployed Iowans back to work rebuilding the state’s public facilities, infrastructure and parks.  This grant would provide quality wages for individuals who have lost their jobs due to the natural disasters.  Each individual is eligible to receive up to $12,000 in wages for participating in the clean-up efforts and the wages are paid at a rate that significantly exceeds unemployment insurance compensation rates.  In 1993, over $25 million in federal funding provided necessary wages for Iowa’s restoration efforts.

Finally, Governor Culver asked the federal government to expand the Federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance program to Iowans in all 83 counties declared disaster areas by the Governor.  The program will make unemployment benefits available to individuals who would not normally be eligible if they have lost their jobs due to flood waters or severe weather.  To date, the program is only available in the following counties: Adams, Benton, Black Hawk, Bremer, Buchanan, Butler, Cedar, Cerro Gordo, Delaware, Fayette, Floyd, Hardin, Johnson, Jones, Linn, Louisa, Marion, Muscatine, Page, Polk, Story, Tama, Union, and Winneshiek.  Governor Culver’s request would expand this to all 83 counties considered state disaster areas. 

News release:

King:  Thanks for Taxpayer Relief Must Be Honored with Good Stewardship

Washington, D.C. – Yesterday Congressman Steve King joined other members of the Iowa Congressional delegation in a letter asking the leadership in the House of Representative to include emergency assistance funding to address the needs of Iowans in the wake of record floods in the state.  While King supports efforts to ensure the federal government is fulfilling its responsibilities in responding to the disaster, he cautioned that every taxpayer dollar should be used wisely and efficiently to see to it that fiscal responsibility is maintained. 

King made the follow statement today: “We have suffered unprecedented loss of life in the recent natural disasters in Iowa.  Iowans have done all they possibly could to prepare for the floods of 2008.  Iowans will again set the standard for helping themselves and each other in the recovery effort.”

“As the response and clean up effort continues, it is important that Iowans be able to rely upon FEMA and other branches of the federal government to do their part to assist these efforts.  To date, the response from FEMA and other federal agencies has been superb.  We, as Iowans, are thankful.”

“While we work to ensure Iowa and other affected states have ready access to resources to overcome the challenges that lie ahead, we will also ensure that every taxpayer dollar is used responsibly.  Relief is important for disaster victims, but it is only as important as the responsibility with which it’s spent.”

"All Iowans – local, county, and state leaders – should carefully review every request for disaster assistance and closely monitor the funds as they are spent.”

“I take seriously my responsibility as a steward of taxpayer dollars.  I look forward to working with others within our state and federal governments to ensure Iowans get the most for the money they’ve sent to Washington.”


Presidential disaster declaration will give green light to federal assistance for Iowans

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Tom Harkin and Chuck Grassley from Iowa today sent letters to the President and FEMA urging them to work quickly to give all 83 of Iowa’s affected counties presidential disaster declarations and quickly dispense federal aid to those residents. The President and FEMA have already declared 29 counties eligible for Individual Assistance and 27 counties eligible for Public Assistance. Governor Culver requested that all 83 counties he declared as state disaster areas be given presidential disaster declarations.

“In the wake of this flooding more than 38,000 Iowans have been displaced from their homes.  The financial impact of the flooding will exceed the impact from the 1993 Iowa flooding, which totaled $2.1 billion,” the Senators wrote. “We strongly support Governor Culver’s request to further amend the Presidential Disaster Declaration to include all 83 counties in Iowa affected by flooding . . .  we urge you and your staff to work closely with state and local officials to ensure that federal assistance is made available to all those in need.”

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.