Iowa is a bit annoyed, and there is a good reason why. On August 10th, 2020, the Midwest was hit by a storm called a derecho. There was a lot of buzz on social media that people had never heard of this type of storm before, but it was actually the 8th derecho to hit the United States this year. Of course, none were quite as devastating as this one.
The news cycle has been so frenzied that little attention has been paid to the devastation in Iowa, which some have referred to as ‘Iowa’s Katrina’. The situation is bad. There has been significant infrastructure damage, and lack of electricity has hampered repairs. Crops, homes and other buildings are destroyed
Whatever Iowa’s mood was in terms of a return to school next week is now a moot point. This is because multiple schools in Cedar Rapids are so damaged they cannot be opened.
A derecho can be pretty serious and it might be described as ‘all the storms at once’. A derecho causes tornadoes, heavy rain, thunderstorms, flooding, and hurricane force winds. Generally, it is a group of severe storms that plow through trees, crops, and buildings, leaving destruction in it’s wake. The Governor of Iowa described the severe storm as a 40 mile wide tornado.
The August 2020 Midwest derecho stretched from South Dakota to the Great Lakes. Major damages were sustained in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, and Chicago, as well as many small towns. Millions of Americans have been negatively affected and thousands require humanitarian aid. 27 counties have been declared a disaster. 3 people were killed. This is a BIG deal.
Many Iowans affected by the derecho still do not have power a week later, and as many as 8,200 homes have been destroyed or extensively damaged. That is a big deal as that is 8,200 families that require shelter. Officials have declared that 80 to 90 percent of homes in Cedar Rapids have been damaged.
Of great concern is the destruction of 13 million acres of corn, which amounts to about 1/3rd of the Iowa’s crops. That is a lot of corn. It is a lot of destroyed food.
Some have called the devastation a humanitarian disaster as so many people and businesses have been affected.
We have people who don’t have houses. And we’re not talking about one, two, three. We’re talking about hundreds of families that will probably be sleeping in their cars.NPR
President Trump has only partially approved Iowa’s request for federal assistance. Of course, Trump lied and CLAIMED he signed the whole thing on Twitter:
The reality is that Trump excluded many items that Iowa requested:
Trump had approved the public assistance portion of the governor’s request totaling about $45 million covering 16 counties. That portion of the declaration provides debris removal and repair to government buildings and utilities. He did not, however, approve the individual assistance request for 27 counties that includes $82.7 million for homes destroyed or with major damage and $3.77 billion for agriculture damage to farm land, grain bins and buildings and $100 million for private utilities repair.apnews
When asked to include the direct assistance for 27 counties, Trump said he would look into it.CNN
Just for the record, Linn County, the home of Cedar Rapids, went to Clinton in 2016. 50.33 to 41.32. Is this why Trump is slow to deliver aid? It’s the kind of thing he does. It is also extra petty considering Trump was delivered Iowa’s 6 electoral votes.
It is important not to overlook this factor when it comes to Trump’s willingness to provide federal assistance to states. On Tuesday the 18th, Trump visited Iowa and met with state officials, but purposely did not invite Democratic Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer to his roundtable discussion. Instead, Trump invited Representative Finkenauer’s Republican challenger Ashley Hinson.
Although Pence and Trump have each visited Iowa since the derecho occurred, neither have toured the damage,