The U.S. Senate is expected to vote this week on legislation that would pump 2.7 billion dollars into flood relief efforts in the Midwest. The measure is part of a war supplemental spending bill that passed the House last week.
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley expects it to pass, to bolster agencies including FEMA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Small Business Administration. “The federal disaster assistance coffers are not empty, I want to emphasize, but this funding will make sure that every dollar that’s needed is there when it’s needed in Iowa and neighboring states,” Grassley says.
Just in Cedar Rapids, more than nine square miles of homes and businesses were damaged or destroyed by flooding — with estimates of 5,000 homes touched by the high waters. Grassley says more legislation will go to a vote in the Senate this week that will address housing.
He says: “The housing bill includes tax legislation that I sponsored to make federally-backed revenue bonds available to state and local housing authorities so that they can issue inexpensive mortgages to people living in presidentially-declared disaster areas.” In Iowa, 70 of our 99 counties have been declared disaster areas by President Bush. Grassley says the legislation will reinstate policies that were put in place during previous natural disasters, like Hurricane Katrina, to help residents to rebuild.
“On top of an already-tightened mortgage market, the aftermath of the floods and tornadoes make it even more difficult for many people to get financing to rebuild,” Grassley says. “This tax policy responds to that and will give Iowans facing an uphill battle, recovering from the floods and tornadoes, a better chance to be homeowners again.” In the past month, Iowa Homeland Security officials say more than 38,600 Iowans have been evacuated from their homes in 31 communities in 18 counties.