State flood aid is included in a bill that cleared the Iowa legislature on Saturday — the final day of its 2019 session.
Republican Representative Ray Sorenson of Greenfield said $15 million will be available for local governments in the seven counties hardest hit by this year’s flooding.
“These communities would be able to apply for funds to assist with flood response, flood recovery and flood mitigation efforts,” Sorenson said Saturday. “These funds could be used to meet federal match requirements or as part of further flood recovery or flood protection efforts in their communities.”
The Flood Recovery Fund will be managed by an already-existing state board created after the massive flooding that hit Iowa in 2008.
“This approach will allow us to maximize federal funding and allow communities to move quicker in recovering from this spring’s floods,” Sorenson said.
Senator Rob Hogg, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, said the legislature should have committed more to deal with the “extraordinary damage” from this year’s flooding.
“Based on my experience in the flood of 2008…I am highly skeptical that $15 million is going to be enough before the legislature reconvenes next January,” Hogg said on the Senate floor Saturday. “…I think it is crystal clear that the homeowners and the businesses and the families that have lost so much need more help.”
Two weeks ago, Republican Governor Kim Reynolds asked legislators to set aside the $15 million for flood recovery and mitigation. Senator Michael Breitbach a Republican from Strawberry Point, said the governor has a team of experts on the ground and he trusts her judgment.
“One of the determinations that’s made when you apply for federal funds is if the need is actually there,” Breitbach added. “If we can show we don’t have a need for those funds because we’ve already appropriated more money than is needed, it can hinder some of our qualifications to receive some of those funds.”
Legislators did commit another $10 million to state tax credits for home building, hoping to help rebuilding in devastated communities like Pacific Junction and Hamburg.