Governor Culver (right) looks at flood damage in Cedar Rapids with President Bush and Cedar Rapids Mayor. Governor Culver says he’s pleased congress has given final approval to a $23 billion disaster aid package, but Culver says he may ask for more.

“It’s a start, certainly, and we’re going to just keep pressing as hard as humanly possible to do two things,” Culver says, “one — to make sure that the federal funds that have already been approved get distributed to Iowa and two — to continue to make our case to Washington in terms of what our long term needs will be.”

The disaster aid package congress endorsed this weekend includes money not only to cover Iowa’s springtime flood and storm damage, but recent hurricane damage to Gulf coast states, the California wildfires and other natural disasters. “I’m not suggesting it’s short. I’m saying it’s a start,” Culver says. “It’s unclear at this point how much Iowa is going to get so I’ll have more to say when we know more details about the specific amount that will be earmarked for Iowa.”

The bill which passed the U.S. House and Senate this past weekend does not specify how much goes to individual states. It does specify that $6.5 billion will be distributed in the form of block grants, a move which gives states more flexibility in using those funds. “I am pleased that they got it done before they adjourned and I’ll be in constant contact with our delegation and the agencies involved to make sure we get our fair share,” Culver says.

Culver believes there will be additional federal money set aside for road and bridge repair in other legislation. Culver and others have complained about delays in distributing previously-approved disaster aid to Iowans. 

“We have certainly let it be known that we would like to see a bit more speed in terms of the money being distributed from Washington,” Culver says. “…We’ll just keep pressing.” There is one Cedar Rapids flood recovery project which received the go-ahead in the disaster aid package. About $182 million was set aside for a new federal courthouse for Cedar Rapids.