With flood damage estimates for Cedar Rapids alone already exceeding a billion dollars, government officials at all levels are preparing to deal with the staggering costs of rebuilding Iowa.
U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley says the federal government is working in a variety of areas, including making sure the American Red Cross is letting people earmark their donations.
Grassley says the Red Cross is honoring state-specific donations, so anyone can send the agency a check and specify they want it to go, for example, to tornado and flood relief in Iowa. He says the Red Cross has created a fund that will focus on seven states hit by severe weather lately: Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Grassley says whenever disaster strikes, con artists aren’t far behind, so Iowans need to use caution when dealing with those who claim they’re there to help. Grassley says the Department of Health and Human Services is warning Iowans to ask to see the badges of inspectors who come onto their property, from the Red Cross to FEMA or the U.S. Small Business Administration.
All authorized workers should have full credentials and should be willing to present I.D. Grassley says the flood damage is wide-reaching and encompasses not only homes and businesses but crops, roads, bridges, city halls and schools.
"We’re now looking at every possible form of assistance from federal programs and federal policies," Grassley says. "We’ve asked FEMA to quickly respond to requests from Iowa and for FEMA’s required match to be waived."
He says that match was dropped or at least lowered for victims of Hurricane Katrina and he thinks the agency may cut or eliminate the required match for Iowans, too. Grassley says it’s still early to say if the tens of thousands of Iowans who’ve had to evacuate from their homes will need government-issued mobile homes, the likes of which became infamous in Louisiana and Mississippi following Hurricane Katrina.
Grassley says he’s looking for housing-related tax relief to be included in a housing bill that’s in the final stages of the legislative process, in addition to other prospects that were done following Katrina that might apply now in helping Iowans to recover.
He says he’s also considering the call for a federal loan fund that would be devoted to helping small- and medium-sized businesses have access to cash at below market rates so they could stay financially afloat.