U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan today toured areas of Cedar Rapids that were underwater a year ago. Donovan’s agency released nearly 517-million dollars worth of grants Tuesday for Iowa disaster relief projects, money that was approved by congress last September.
Donovan came bearing a message, that the Obama Administration wants to take disaster response and recovery in a new direction. "The measure of our success will not be whether we help Iowa communities rebuild and recover. We will. It is whether we have the courage and the wisdom to do things differently," Donovan said, "to take steps today that ensure our successors do not have to be here rebuilding from the next storm 10, 15 or 20 years from now."
Donovan’s agency has set aside over $300-million that will be released on a competitive basis to states and communities that identify projects which would prevent future flooding.
"While no community can completely be protected from Mother Nature’s wrath, there is so much more that we can do and must be doing to ensure families, communities and economies are less vulnerable to it in the future," he said. The half a billion dollars in grants that’s been forwarded to the State of Iowa can be used to buy-out property that was flooded.
"Iowa is already well ahead of the curve in this regard with plans in the works to buy out more than 1500 properties valued before the storm at more than $130 million," according to Donovan. Donovan spoke at a news conference early this afternoon.
"I believe it is the federal government’s responsibility to support communities like these in any way possible, to rebuild damaged infrastructure, help families struggling to find a new place to live, and to revitalize local economies," Donovan said.
Governor Chet Culver and U.S. Agriculture Secretary and former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack were among the officials that joined Donovan. The group toured the Time Check neighborhood, downtown Cedar Rapids and Veterans Memorial Coliseum, which is still damaged from last year’s flooding.