U.S. Rep. Finkenauer visits Marshalltown, tours tornado-impacted area

T-R PHOTO BY ADAM SODDERS - U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer, left, talks to resident Braulio Pereyra outside his tornado-impacted Second Avenue home. Also pictured in the back row from left are state Rep. Mark Smith, Finkenauer staff member Jared Mullendore, and Marshalltown Second Ward City Councilor Sue Cahill.

Newly sworn-in First Congressional District U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer toured Marshalltown on foot and by car Sunday, looking at tornado-impacted businesses and homes.

The Democratic representative was joined by state Rep. Mark Smith, D-Marshalltown, and by First Ward City Councilor Sue Cahill. She got a glimpse of the recovery from the small business and the residential perspective.

“The teamwork that I’ve heard about, the community spirit, it’s not shocking, but it is inspiring,” Finkenauer said. “It truly is an honor to have been here today, getting to look folks in the eyes and hear stories about what has been done and all that is left to do.”

Among the stops Sunday was Black Tire Bike Co. at 117 W. Main St. The store was one of several small businesses hit by the July 19 tornado, and owners Matt and Cassandra Gerstandt said they’re preparing to move back into the Main Street location after moving to the Marshalltown Mall temporarily.

The Gerstandts told Finkenauer about the tornado and the damage it did, as well as their recovery effort.

The congresswoman also visited the home of Braulio Pereyra on North Second Avenue. Pereyra told Finkenauer about the damage the storm did, as well as a the damage he said was done by a predatory contractor.

“It’s very concerning to hear those stories and the fact that it happens,” Finkenauer said.

She said there has been a great community effort in Marshalltown to heal after the storm, but said she will continue looking for opportunities to help, despite a lack of individual assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

“There’s a lot of great non-profit work that is being done, whether it’s through Habitat for Humanity or MICA (Mid-Iowa Community Action) or different groups, but it’s also important that I figure out, too, what can we still do on the federal level,” Finkenauer said. “I’m disappointed with the president (Donald Trump) with the disaster declaration and how all of that played out.”

An update from Washington

Finkenauer also criticized the Trump administration for the current partial government shutdown, which passed the three-week mark this last weekend.

“About a week and a half ago, we were all sworn into Congress, and it’s the first class that has ever been sworn in in the middle of a government shutdown,” she said. “We’ve got about 3,000 people in the state of Iowa right now who are working without pay.”

Finkenauer said she has voted in favor of spending bills in the House of Representatives that were sent to the U.S. Senate for approval. She said Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not taken action on those bills.

Trump has maintained that the shutdown will continue until Congress provides about $5.7 million in taxpayer money for a barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border. The barrier, specifically a wall, was a major promise of his 2016 presidential bid, but at that time Trump said Mexico would finance the project.

The administration has said illegal immigration across the border constitutes a national crisis and that a wall would help solve the issue.

“We are one part of this legislative branch, and I’ll continue to do my job,” Finkenauer said. “I urge McConnell and the Senate to do theirs, and the president to do his.”

—-

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

Editor’s note: This story was updated to reflect that Sue Cahill is the First Ward Councilor.