Governor Chet Culver is in Cedar Rapids this afternoon, touting a public-private program that’s helping flooded-out homeowners rebuild, “Block by Block.”
“This is another great example of Iowans helping Iowans. Local folks in Cedar Rapids have come together to create this ‘Block by Block’ program,” Culver says. “…With a combination of resources including an additional $1.3 million, we’ll be able to build back about 365 homes in a 24-square-block area of Cedar Rapids.”
To participate in the “Block by Block” program, at least 60 percent of the property owners in the block must agree to participate. “And most importantly, you’re talking about hundreds of volunteers who actually get into these homes, do the necessary repairs and help provide a new home for families that were forced out in the summer of 2008 because of the flood waters,” Culver says.
Culver is holding a news conferece at the “Block by Block” offices in Cedar Rapids to discuss additional funding for the program.
Some flood victims in Cedar Rapids object to the city’s plans for some neighborhoods and they’ve been pushing for a meeting with Culver to voice their concerns. Culver says his campaign manager met with some of the upset residents this past Saturday. “And we look forward to an on-going dialogue with anyone and everyone that’s been impacted by the worst natural disaster in our state’s history,” Culver says.
Democrats in the legislature who are from Linn County are hosting a fundraiser for Culver this evening in Cedar Rapids. One flood victim told The Cedar Rapids Gazette it is “tacky” for Culver to raise money in the flood zone and some flood victims plan to protest outside tonight’s event. Culver says he has “a ton of support” in Cedar Rapids.
“I have made about 100 trips to Cedar Rapids,” Culver says, “so I’ve been meeting with impacted business owners, homeowners, community leaders for two solid years and I will continue to do that because by sitting down and listening to these individuals, these businesses that have been impacted, that’s why we’ve been so effective at our response.” Culver points to the more than $4 billion in state and federal aid that have poured into Cedar Rapids to help with flood recovery and flood prevention projects.
A Democrat from Cedar Rapids who is a state senator is making a public-relations tour around Iowa, touting the Culver Administration’s response to the floods. Culver says it’s a campaign issue that “really separates” him from Republican challenger Terry Branstad. “Terry Branstad has said repeatedly that he thinks that the Iowa Jobs and Infrastructure initiative is a mistake. He’s even called it a goofy idea, ” Culver says. “I ask him to tell that to the homeowners and businesses and communities like Cedar Rapids who have benefitted from $365 million in Iowa Jobs and Infrastructure funds that have allowed those communities, those neighborhoods and those businesses to come back.”
Tim Albrecht, Branstad’s campaign spokesman, says “politicizing” the flood is “sad and pathetic.” Albrecht says Culver should be ashamed for making “juvenile” campaign attacks against Branstad — and for holding a campaign fundraiser at a restaurant that’s “in the flood plain of Cedar Rapids.”
The Flamingo restaurant was flooded up to the roof line in June of 2008.