WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — President Donald Trump stopped in Iowa briefly Tuesday, a little more than a week after a devastating derecho ripped through the state.
“It’s basically a 40-mile-wide tornado that went through the state,” Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, explained the storm.
The Aug. 10 thunderstorm, which came with damaging winds in excess of 100 mph, left three people dead, millions of acres of farmland ruined and thousands still without power.
“We’re strong and we’re resilient, Mr. President, but we are tired and we need your help,” Iowan Kim Reem told Trump at a roundtable.
Trump said help is on the way. On Monday night, his administration approved Iowa’s $4 billion disaster relief aid.
“Cedar Rapids has had a rough couple of years when you think about it. We took good care of the flooding and just like we did that, we’re going to help you recover from the storm,” Trump said Tuesday. “We will rebuild even stronger than before. We’re going to be in fantastic shape.”
But some Iowa Democrats are skeptical. Rep. Cindy Axne said the president’s commitment has fallen short, with the emergency declaration leaving out direct aid for families already suffering during the coronavirus pandemic.
“While folks are struggling to make ends meet, they’re having to go and deal with trying to find a roof over their heads and put food in their belly,” she said.
Iowa resident Steve Evans said he went six days without power and that help has been slow to arrive.
“We’re looking for more of a hand up from the government and I just don’t think it’s coming,” he said. “And so I think there’s really a bit of despondency like we’re really out here on our own.”
But the Federal Emergency Management Agency says that’s not the case.
“By law, FEMA is not allowed to duplicate insurance payments or assistance provided by charities and non-profit organizations,” spokesman John Mills said, explaining FEMA needs to review the damage before issuing aid.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has said he is working with Iowa leaders to ensure relief for farmers, who lost billions in revenue when the storm flattened about a third of fields in the state.