Finkenauer Urges President Trump to Approve Iowa’s Full Major Disaster Request and Waive Local Costs

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer (IA-01) sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Wednesday urging him to grant the remainder of Iowa’s expedited major disaster declaration and waive the local cost match requirements for emergency work.

Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer

On Monday, President Trump announced partial approval of the disaster declaration, providing federal aid called Public Assistance for Iowa communities to cleanup and rebuild following last week’s devastating derecho storm, but not assistance for families, homeowners, and small businesses.

According to the Federal Disaster Declaration Fact Sheet provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the request for Individual Assistance remains under review.

“While I understand that a thorough review of the damages is an important step in this process, it’s clear that the severity and magnitude of damage warrants such assistance,” Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer wrote. “A decision is needed so that Iowans can begin taking the necessary steps to document their damages and continue the recovery process. I urge you to swiftly approve the State’s request for Individual Assistance in impacted counties so that the hundreds of thousands of Iowans can afford to feed their families, repair their homes, and get back to their daily lives.”

Finkenauer also asked that FEMA waive state and  local cost-share requirements for the emergency declaration.

“…As state and local governments continue to deal with the ongoing public health and budgetary impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, I urge you to direct FEMA Administrator Gaynor to waive the non-federal cost-share requirements for federal emergency assistance,” Finkenauer wrote. “State, local, and tribal governments across the country are already facing declining revenue and unforeseen budget gaps on account of the ongoing pandemic and the limited amount of direct federal assistance received to-date to cover related expenses.” 

Finkenauer followed up the letter with a call on Wednesday evening to FEMA Regional Administrator Paul Taylor, in which she reiterated the importance of full approval for the major disaster declaration and the local cost waiver. 

The rare derecho storm affected more than 20 counties across Iowa, producing straight-line winds that exceeded 100 mph in several locations. Much of the damage took place in counties included in the First District. 550,000 homes were left without power and the total estimated damage is more than $3.9 billion.

On Monday, Finkenauer visited Benton County to hear about local storm damage from local leaders and emergency management officials.  

On Sunday, Finkenauer joined the full Iowa federal delegation in sending a letter to President Donald Trump urging him to accept Governor Kim Reynolds’ request for an expedited presidential major disaster declaration.  

Last Friday, Finkenauer visited storm damage in Marshalltown including the Iowa Veterans Home. 

Last Thursday, Finkenauer urged Reynolds to call for an expedited Presidential Disaster Declaration and joined Cedar Rapids city officials at a press conference to call for expedited federal aid and additional state resources as Cedar Rapids and communities across Iowa work to recover from Monday’s derecho storm. 

Last Wednesday, she attended a briefing with Cedar Rapids emergency officials.    

Last Tuesday, Finkenauer sent a letter to Governor Kim Reynolds seeking information and offering assistance in the wake of Monday’s storms that knocked out power and caused widespread damage across eastern Iowa.    

If you need or someone you know has been affected by the storm and needs help, call 1-800-RED-CROSS. For information about state aid for food and health assistance, click here. To volunteer through the United Way of East Central Iowa, click here.  

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