Iowa Veterans Home saw $2.7M in tornado damage

Congressman Loebsack tours facilities

T-R PHOTO BY ADAM SODDERS - U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack visited the Iowa Veterans Home Monday afternoon and toured several facilities, including the new, $6 million laundry facility. Commandant Timon Oujiri also shared basic information about the home, as well as an update on tornado damage. From left: Loebsack, IVH Laundry Supervisor Hope Harvey.

Iowa Veterans Home Commandant Timon Oujiri talked tornado damage and general services as U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack visited the site Monday afternoon.

The Democratic congressman, who represents southeast Iowa in Washington, D.C., had never visited the home and took a tour with Oujiri. Among several topics discussed was the aftermath of the July 19 tornado.

“We did sustain $2.7 million worth of damage, the roofing and some siding,” Oujiri said. “That’s also cleanup, removal of trees, some of the other small structure.”

He said the roof of the 120-bed Ulery Building got the worst of the damage and will have to be totally replaced. Additionally, Oujiri said the campus lost 30 trees as the tornado hit about 30 yards of the grounds.

Loebsack asked about the status of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding to Marshalltown and added he experienced a natural disaster in his district during the floods of 2008. Funding will become available if President Donald Trump makes an official disaster declaration for the area.

Oujiri praised the IVH staff and residents for their conduct during and after the tornado. He said the staff remained calm and told jokes, stories and otherwise entertained residents as the storm passed.

During Monday’s tour, Loebsack spoke with several staff members and departmental leaders at the veterans home. Among them were medical director bureau chief Dr. Christine Lindgren, mental health services bureau chief Dr. Douglas Steenblock and laundry supervisor Hope Harvey.

Loebsack also toured the home’s food services area, chapel, crafts room, residential areas and the new $6 million laundry facility.

“I had no idea the extent of the care and the coverage that they do here … this is a really wonderful facility and I’m glad I’m getting to know it,” Loebsack said. “I didn’t know they did as many things as they do, from the laundry to the food that they provide — and that dementia unit is very important, too.”

He said he has two children who joined the U.S. Marine Corps and takes veterans issues to heart. Loebsack said those issues should be something on which Republicans and Democrats can find common ground.

“Our veterans, they sign on the dotted line and they’re willing to make the ultimate sacrifice,” he said. “The least we can do when they come home is treat them with the dignity and the respect that they deserve. We have to make sure that they continue to get the kind of care that they need, even make it better if we can.”

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Contact Adam Sodders at (641) 753-6611 or asodders@timesrepublican.com