Senator Grassley Flood Message To Colleagues

I come to the floor today to share a message from America’s heartland.

As you know, millions of Americans in the middle of the country are experiencing catastrophic flooding. My home state of Iowa and our neighbors in Nebraska are particularly hard-hit.

I want to thank the Trump administration for its swift response on Saturday to approve the expedited request for a Major Disaster Declaration made by Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds on Thursday evening.The flooding has caused tremendous damage, impacting more than two-thirds of Iowa’s 99 counties. The federal disaster proclamation will trigger emergency assistance to 56 of those counties, so far.  

Governor Reynolds’ team has been in the trenches, working hand in hand with local officials and county emergency coordinators.

They estimated damages, so far, across our state to be $1-and-six-tenths billion dollars.

The damages estimated for agriculture is $214 million dollars. Damages to homes is $481 million dollars. Levee repair estimates are $525 million dollars.

By all accounts and every possible metric, the damages and devastation are overwhelming. And yet, at the same time, the legendary mythology of America’s heartland and its people is rooted in truth. The road to recovery will be long, grueling and at times, gruesome. But I am confident the grit and resilience of Iowans and their fellow Midwesterners will prevail.

Over the last week, we’ve heard remarkable stories of neighbor helping neighbor. And of neighbors helping total strangers. Residents of all ages and abilities rubbed elbows to bag sand to save a water treatment facility in their small town; first responders and good Samaritans rescued people stranded in their homes; farmers moved their neighbor’s grain and livestock to higher ground, volunteers rolled up their sleeves to serve hot meals and deliver water; and, generous Americans across our country opened their wallets to donate money, food, water, hygiene products and medical supplies.

Iowa farmers not wiped out by the floods are sending truckloads of much-needed hay to livestock producers and ranchers in Nebraska.

These stories offer a glimmer of sunshine in the darkest hours of the 2019 floods. You might say we are experiencing an unwelcome twist of March Madness along the Missouri River. Despite being mired in muck and mud, it’s reassuring to see the full-court press and gritty resilience of Midwesterners.

Make no mistake. The catastrophic damages to private property, farmland, Main Street businesses, public utilities and critical infrastructure, including wells, roads, bridges and railways, have extended beyond the capabilities of local and state government.

Aerial footage of our state make entire communities and farmsteads look like an island surrounded by an ocean.

Consider this photo taken last week. You see here a small community along the Missouri River. It’s the town of Pacific Junction, located in the far Southwestern corner of the state in Mills County. Its entire population was forced to evacuate. As you can see from this photo, the rooftops of homes appear to be floating in the muddy waters of a Monopoly Board. I ask my colleagues here in the Senate and Americans listening at home. Put yourselves in the shoes of those evacuated from their homes.

As you know, millions of Americans in the middle of the country are experiencing catastrophic flooding. My home state of Iowa and our neighbors in Nebraska are particularly hard-hit.

I want to thank the Trump administration for its swift response on Saturday to approve the expedited request for a Major Disaster Declaration made by Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds on Thursday evening.

The flooding has caused tremendous damage, impacting more than two-thirds of Iowa’s 99 counties. The federal disaster proclamation will trigger emergency assistance to 56 of those counties, so far.  

Governor Reynolds’ team has been in the trenches, working hand in hand with local officials and county emergency coordinators.

They estimated damages, so far, across our state to be $1-and-six-tenths billion dollars.

The damages estimated for agriculture is $214 million dollars. Damages to homes is $481 million dollars. Levee repair estimates are $525 million dollars.

By all accounts and every possible metric, the damages and devastation are overwhelming. And yet, at the same time, the legendary mythology of America’s heartland and its people is rooted in truth. The road to recovery will be long, grueling and at times, gruesome. But I am confident the grit and resilience of Iowans and their fellow Midwesterners will prevail.

Over the last week, we’ve heard remarkable stories of neighbor helping neighbor. And of neighbors helping total strangers. Residents of all ages and abilities rubbed elbows to bag sand to save a water treatment facility in their small town; first responders and good Samaritans rescued people stranded in their homes; farmers moved their neighbor’s grain and livestock to higher ground, volunteers rolled up their sleeves to serve hot meals and deliver water; and, generous Americans across our country opened their wallets to donate money, food, water, hygiene products and medical supplies.

Iowa farmers not wiped out by the floods are sending truckloads of much-needed hay to livestock producers and ranchers in Nebraska.

These stories offer a glimmer of sunshine in the darkest hours of the 2019 floods. You might say we are experiencing an unwelcome twist of March Madness along the Missouri River. Despite being mired in muck and mud, it’s reassuring to see the full-court press and gritty resilience of Midwesterners.

Make no mistake. The catastrophic damages to private property, farmland, Main Street businesses, public utilities and critical infrastructure, including wells, roads, bridges and railways, have extended beyond the capabilities of local and state government.

Now let’s examine how the flooding has affected our farmers. As a lifelong farmer, I know exactly what farmers across my state are feeling this time of year. They get very antsy and keep constant watch of the weather, soil temperature and planting conditions. They’ve ordered seeds and fertilizers and are chomping at the bit to get started on field work. Now, imagine the farmers along the Missouri River.

Tens of thousands of acres of farmland are under water. These acres may never be ready for planting this season. And now consider the farmers who were storing grain in the bins along the Missouri river bottoms. Millions of bushels of flood-soaked grain have spilled into the murky flood waters. This is grain that farmers were counting on to pay the bills to put this year’s crop in the ground.

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