The united front on the flood

All six members of Iowa’s congressional delegation are making a pitch to the president, asking for more federal flood aid.  Read a joint news release, followed by a letter they’ve co-signed, below.

U.S. Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), along with the entire Iowa delegation, today sent President Bush a letter urging him to consider a partial or complete waiver of the 25 percent cost-share the state must come up with to receive federal assistance to repair and rebuild infrastructure and utilities. Reducing the cost share will continue to help those communities most in need after the devastating floods. Reduction of the cost-share amounts for states was enacted for victims of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana and Mississippi. Iowa’s cost-share was reduced to ten percent after the flooding in 1993.

“Across Iowa, our roads, bridges, levees and buildings have suffered significant damage,” said Harkin. “The scope of our needs is great, and now is not the time to ask Iowa communities and state government to dole out resources they simply do not have. The federal government has allowed other states to forgo this local match, now it is Iowa’s turn.”

"Iowa communities are in a world of hurt right now.  The damage is astounding as people continue to dig through the rubble left behind by the floods," Grassley said.  "Iowans have shown great resiliency throughout this disaster and have committed to rebuilding our state.  Their efforts will take a great amount of time, money and sweat and additional help from FEMA will help many parts of Iowa start anew."

The text of the letter is pasted below.

The Honorable George W. Bush

President of the United States

The White House

Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

Our home state of Iowa and much of the Midwest have been besieged since June by record flooding.  Nine Iowa river basins overtopped their banks and the effects have been felt in areas of the state far away from the 500-year flood plain. 

State and local officials are engaged in the long process of clean up and rebuilding those communities affected by the floods.  It is clear to us that the catastrophic and widespread damage caused by these floods will outpace the damage caused by the record flooding of 1993.    More than 40,000 have been displaced as a result of the flooding and severe storms.  Sadly, the current estimates tell us that more than one thousand homes have been destroyed and an additional 3,225 have had major damages. 

We support Governor Culver’s request for a partial waiver of the twenty-five percent cost share for federal public assistance for public infrastructure and utilities (categories C through G).  This request comes in addition to our delegation’s letter requesting a complete cost share waiver for FEMA public assistance for emergency protective measures and debris removal for no less than the sixty days following June 11, 2008.  We expect the damage to public and private non-profit entities to exceed the $1.22 per capita statutory threshold to trigger a federal cost-share waiver. The damage wrought by these floods and tornadoes will not only leave our state with a staggering bill, it has also decimated our state’s ability to be a robust partner in the rebuilding effort.  State and local resources have been stretched to the limit so far and in some cases city facilities are inaccessible due to flood waters. 

As you are aware, there is substantial precedent for such a waiver.  At numerous times in the past both your Administration and the previous one, in response to horrific natural disasters has seen fit to apply a ten percent in kind matching requirement for public assistance following a major natural disaster.  The most recent cost-share adjustment was made for Louisiana and Mississippi, when for sixteen months following Hurricane Katrina no cost share was required for federal public assistance.  In addition, following Hurricanes Jeanne, Ivan, Frances and Charlie and for several severe storms in the late 1990’s any cost share has been waived for a period of at least 193 days.   Finally, in the aftermath of the 1993 flooding that hit Iowa, President Clinton responded by lowering the state and local cost share for public assistance to ten percent. 

We appreciate your prompt consideration of this request.  It is essential that we work together to ensure Iowans have the support and resources necessary to clean up and rebuild following this flooding. 

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About O.Kay Henderson

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


  1. Ben Birks says

    doesn’t the congressional delegation consist of seven members?

  2. Maybe the Republicans only count as 2/3 of a person? That would come out to six…