The governor promises to quickly sign a bill that provides $56 million in state disaster relief. The bill passed the House on Tuesday evening and cleared the senate tonight by unanimous vote.
Senator Bill Dotzler of Waterloo says his daughter’s home was destroyed by the March 25th tornado, then floodwaters hit his own home a few weeks later. "What this bill is about is to help people who have (fallen) through the cracks," Dotzler says. "I know that any senator or representative who have been affected by this knows that state programs and federal programs have a lot of rules within them and they don’t necessarily match up perfectly with individuals and their personal problems."
The bill does change eligibility standards so more Iowans qualify for home and individual assistance from the state. Senator Rob Hogg is from Cedar Rapids where officials estimate last spring’s flooding caused a billion dollars in damage.
"One of the things that’s really been hard for me to convey about our disaster…is to try my hardest to help people understand that it’s not just numbers," Hogg says. "Every home, every business, every building has a story to tell — and the people who lived there or worked there or had some connection there have a story to tell."
According to Hogg, for many it’s been a story of "economic and emotional devastation."
"These stories have to have a happy ending," Hogg says. "This is a day of hope and I hope throughout this 100 day session we are able to provide 100 days of hope to the people of Iowa who have been do devastated and who yearn to recover from this epic disaster."
The plan approved in the senate tonight offers assistance to city and county governments which were hit by last spring’s natural disasters as well as assistance to individuals.
Governor Culver issued a statement a few moments ago: "After last night’s 98-0 vote in the House, I want to thank the members and leadership of the Senate for their quick, bipartisan vote on and passage of the Rebuild Iowa bill. Since these disasters began, more than $1.5 billion in state and federal aid has gone towards rebuilding Iowa, and the $56 million in this legislation will help move us further down the road to recovery.
"Though the floodwaters have receded, our collective work is far from finished. We are united in our commitment to help Iowans rebuild safer, stronger, and better than before. This bill is one of many steps we will take together during this legislative session to rebuild the state we all love. Now that this bill has passed both chambers, I look forward to signing it, and bring additional relief to thousands of Iowans."