Grassley tours Marshalltown tornado damage

TR PHOTO BY EMILY BARSKE U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley tours Marshalltown with local leaders. Picture is (left) Iowa Rep. Mark Smith and (middle) Marshalltown Mayor Joel Greer.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley has been to the scene of many natural disasters in Iowa throughout the past few decades. This morning he toured the damage in Marshalltown left behind by an EF-3 tornado last week.

Grassley talked to local leaders about the process to obtain federal resources for disaster relief with Marshalltown Mayor Joel Greer, Rep. Mark Smith, Sen. Jeff Edler and other local leaders on hand for the senator’s walking tour Friday morning.

“You can’t do much to prevent tornados,” Grassley said, talking about other disasters he’d seen like the 1993 flooding in Des Moines or the 2008 flooding in Cedar Rapids. He said the federal government has some mechanisms for providing resources to prevent flooding, but by nature it is harder to prevent tornado damage.

After seeing some of the damage, he said he was surprised no one was seriously injured or killed by the tornado. He said he will advocate for federal resources, like FEMA, if a designation is made.

How does a state get help from FEMA?

“Once a disaster has occurred, and the state has declared a state of emergency, the state will evaluate the recovery capabilities of the state and local governments,” according to FEMA’s website.

Gov. Kim Reynolds put out a disaster declaration for Marshall County, but has not designated a state of emergency for Iowa. Greer had discussions with Reynolds and her staff Thursday in Dubuque as they were all there to greet President Donald Trump in his visit to Iowa.

“If it is determined that the damage is beyond their recovery capability, the governor will normally send a request letter to the president,” according to FEMA’s website. “The president then makes the decision whether or not to declare a major disaster or emergency.

“After a presidential declaration has been made, FEMA will designate the area eligible for assistance and announce the types of assistance available. FEMA provides supplemental assistance for state and local government recovery expenses, and the Federal share will always be at least 75 percent of the eligible costs.”

Advice to Marshalltown

Grassley walked and drove through the most devastated parts of town, shaking hands and talking with those impacted by the storm. His advice was make sure to get the word out about the destruction Marshalltown is facing.

“Be as definitive as you can in telling people what your losses are,” Grassley said.

Gov. Reynolds, Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg, U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst and U.S. Rep. Rod Blum have also toured the city in the past week.

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Contact Emily Barske at 641-753-6611 or ebarske@timesrepublican.com