Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs says the severe flooding and tornadoes of 2008 created a "monumental disaster" in Iowa and legislators will have to keep responding to the "gigantic" problems left in the aftermath.
"I anticipate that we will continue to pass legislation over the next three to five years and maybe longer that relate to dealing with disaster recovery," Gronstal says.
Over the next few years Gronstal envisions a broader discussion about ways to prevent flooding in developed areas. The legislature set aside over a million dollars to create a flood center at the University of Iowa to work on flood management and mitgation and explore ideas like paying farmers to allow flooding on their cropland upstream as an alternative to flooding downtown Cedar Rapids again.
"Those are the kind of creative ideas that people ought to be looking at, so that this isn’t just a cycle of every time there’s a bad set of weather conditions that we end up having to do disaster recovery," Gronstal says.
In the recently-concluded 2009 legislative session, nearly half a billion dollars in state assistance was advanced to storm-damaged areas in the form of grants, loans and tax credits.
"This was a monumental disaster for the state of Iowa, just gigantic in terms of its impact on this state," Gronstal says. "I don’t think we’re going to get it all fixed in just one legislative session."
Gronstal made his comments this weekend during an appearance on Iowa Public Television.