Trump signs Iowa wind storm disaster declaration, may visit

Politics
Donald Trump

President Donald Trump speaks with reporters as he walks to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Monday, Aug. 17, 2020, in Washington. Trump is en route to Minnesota and Wisconsin. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — President Donald Trump said Monday he has signed an emergency declaration for Iowa to help supply federal money to help the state recover from an unusual wind storm that struck a week ago.

“I’ve just approved an emergency declaration for Iowa, who had an incredible windstorm like probably they’ve never seen before,” Trump said before he left Washington for a campaign trip to Minnesota and Wisconsin. “Really did a lot of damage.”

Trump also suggested he may may visit the state.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds filed an expedited presidential major disaster declaration on Sunday seeking $3.99 billion.

A derecho with hurricane-force wind gusts exceeding 100 mph destroyed or extensively damaged 8,200 homes and 13 million acres (5.3 million hectares) of corn, about a third of the state’s crop land, she said.

More than a half million people were without electricity in the immediate aftermath of the storm. As of Monday morning, utility companies reported about 64,000 people remained without power.

The storm left at least three people dead in the state.

The money Iowa is seeking from the federal government includes $3.78 billion in agriculture losses, $100 million for private utilities, $82 million for homes and $45 million for public assistance.

Reynolds and the federal government are taking criticism they didn’t act fast enough.

Former Democratic Lt. Governor Patty Judge, who was Iowa’s homeland security adviser during the massive floods in 2008 that upended many of the same communities hit by the derecho, criticized Vice President Mike Pence for visiting Iowa on Thursday for a campaign stop but not visiting damaged farms or cities.

“Today, President Trump is still deciding whether or not he’ll fly-over the derecho damage on his way to campaign stops in Minnesota and Wisconsin,” she said. “Iowans in trouble should be a top priority, not a veiled PR stunt.”

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