All four Iowans who serve in the U.S. House have introduced a bill that would upgrade the communications network for the National Weather Service. Damage to a fiber optic cable at a Weather Service office in Texas delayed warnings during last month’s tornado outbreak in Iowa.
Congresswoman Cindy Axne of West Des Moines, a Democrat, says it’s important for congress to pass this bill now rather than address it later in the year during federal budget negotiations.
“It is literally a life saving measure, possibly,” Axne says. “There is no way in God’s green acres that anyone would think there should be a delay in getting information to wherever a disaster is occurring.”
Iowa’s congressional delegation is lining up bill co-sponsors from other states, as Axne says it’s not just Iowans who depend upon timely warnings from the National Weather Service.
“We are seeing increased severe weather patterns across this country,” Axne says. “To react to those is of utmost importance and this does that completely.”
Republican Congressman Randy Feenstra of Hull and Congresswoman Ashley Hinson of Marion, who’s also a Republican, both say “every second matters” during severe weather and the National Weather Service must have a functional and reliable communications system. Republican Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Ottumwa says she’s proud of the Iowa delegation’s bipartisan effort to get the Weather Service the tools it needs to issue timely warnings of potentially disastrous storms.