Gov. Reynolds promises stepped up help for derecho recovery
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Governor Kim Reynolds says she expects a federal disaster declaration as early as Monday and promised continued state help as Cedar Rapids, Linn County and other areas clean up and recover from Monday’s derecho.
Gov. Reynolds says she has spoken with the President and Vice President to push for a federal disaster declaration and says she has assurances that will be coming once the state files paperwork requesting it. She says that will take time as it requires the state to meet criteria for storm damage and teams are gathering those assessments now.
Gov. Reynolds cited the need to coordinate, letting local officials take the lead on requesting resources like the Iowa National Guard, saying she didn’t want to “step on toes” by sending in help that was not identified first by local officials.
Governor Reynolds met with Cedar Rapids city leaders Friday to discuss the needs local officials still need. That includes 100 National Guard engineers deployed Friday to assess and assist with clean-up efforts. Those soldiers are still assessing where they will be best used at the direction of the Linn County Emergency Management.
Adjutant General Ben Corell said the guard was contacted Thursday and immediately moved assets towards Cedar Rapids. He mentioned, but did not directly address, the public questions of why it took 4 days to activate help from the National Guard.
“Some even wondered ‘where is the National Guard?’” Gen. Corell said. “Well, the Guard is here and we are ready to get to work.”
Gov. Reynolds has expanded a state disaster declaration to include 25 counties, freeing up grants and financial assistance for recovery. She reiterated the devastating nature of the damage noting that Cedar Rapids, in particular, took a direct hit at the height of the derecho. She said she spoke that night with local leaders about the damage and the need for state assistance.
Gov. Reynolds also said restoring power was the number 1 priority and says Alliant Energy stepped up its timeline to restore power to everyone by Tuesday.
Iowa Homeland Security Director Joyce Flinn with said her office is coordinating several agencies in storm cleanup and response, including utility companies on power restoration, Iowa DNR on debris removal and disposal and volunteer efforts.
Geri Huser with the Iowa Utilities Board said the board issued an order to power companies to give more hyperlocal updates on timelines and progress for restoring power. The board is also acting as a hub to coordinate resources for power companies.
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