The past months have been challenging, to say the least. The catastrophe on the Missouri River with the drastic flooding in southwest Iowa created enormous problems for the whole region. Then another catastrophe – barriers that held back the waters of the Mississippi River broke, devastating parts of Davenport and the surrounding area.
Parts of Davenport are now inundated with floodwaters, displacing families and forcing businesses to temporarily close their doors. I heard the story that one business, which is surrounded by floodwaters but is trying to stay in production, is boating its employees to and from work. It appears that this will be the most damaging flood in the city’s history.
Unfortunately, rain continues to fall, increasing the risk for additional flooding or reflooding. Recovery from these floods will be long and federal resources will continue to be needed as the restoration and rebuilding takes place. I’m committed to continuing to work at the federal level to help Iowa and our neighboring states through this process.
The Senate Appropriations Committee is responsible for reviewing and approving emergency supplemental funding to areas impacted by natural disasters. Though I’m not a member of that committee, I’ve been working with my colleagues there to ensure that Iowa receives the help it needs.
Along with my colleagues from the Midwest, I also filed an amendment to the disaster bill that will help farmers who have suffered losses of up to $34.6 million in on-farm stored corn and soybeans, addressing a gap not covered by crop insurance or other existing disaster programs. As the damage and need assessments for recovery in Iowa become clearer, including the more recent flooding in Scott County, I’ll continue to work with the Appropriations Committee and others in Congress to secure any additional assistance Iowa’s farmers, businesses and families need to get back on their feet. But there’s more that Congress can do to help. That’s why I’ve also introduced the Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2019 with several other Midwest senators. This bill includes a series of disaster tax relief provisions that will help families and businesses recover from the terrible disasters that have occurred so far in 2019, including the Midwest flooding.
The disaster tax relief provisions we have worked on will reduce penalties and make it easier to access retirement funds so individuals and families can rebuild their lives. The provisions also make it easier for disaster victims to claim personal casualty losses and suspend certain limitations on charitable contributions to encourage more donations for disaster relief. For businesses affected by the disasters, this tax relief is available to help them retain employees while the businesses get back up and running.
On the state level, Governor Reynolds and her administration continue to work closely with FEMA on adding Scott County to the existing disaster declaration and on other needs such as housing assistance. To help with her efforts, I ‘ve talked to Acting Administrator Gaynor about this matter and urged him to promptly work on getting this much-needed assistance to those in need. Governor Reynolds has also established the Flood Recovery Advisory Board to coordinate flood recovery and rebuilding efforts across federal, state and local levels of government. As an ex-officio member, I look forward to participating in these meetings to ensure the federal government is offering assistance to Iowans affected by the flooding.
I appreciate the stamina and determination of Iowans, many of whom have a long recovery ahead of them. This Iowa spirit will help everyone impacted pull through these difficult times and come out stronger than before.