DES MOINES, Iowa — State leaders publicly aired frustrations with the federal government as Iowans struggle to recover from devastating March floods. Governor Kim Reynolds held the first meeting of the Iowa Flood Advisory Board to start gathering ideas.
“Roughly 50 percent of loans at the SBA (Small Business Administration) get denied so if that’s the case…if that’s the last resort,” Representative David Sieck, a Republican from Glenwood whose district suffered severe flooding, told fellow board members.
Western Iowa was among the worst hit regions of the state.
Sieck and several other members talked of the growing frustration from homeowners on recovery planning. Some can’t assess the damage yet because their homes are still at least partially underwater and there aren’t enough pumps to clear out the water. And the federal government often requires those assessments before determining assistance.
Third District U.S. Representative Cindy Axne, a West Des Moines Democrat and another board member, said homeowners have also told her that they don’t qualify for enough federal assistance to pay for the damages to their homes. Axne said government officials tell them that they may only get reimbursed for areas of the house that they frequently use. “They say, ‘well, you are retired and you don’t have children…you don’t use downstairs bedrooms,'” Axne recounted to board members.
That could leave areas of a home financially impossible to repair. She said homeowners are frequently told they can only get $20,000 in assistance, which will only pay for part of the repair work needed.
Board members are concerned that many rural areas already don’t have sufficient housing and the flood will make that even worse. That could drive people out of those communities permanently.