Reynolds at RNC: Trump ‘had our back’ after derecho storm

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks via recorded message during the Republican National Convention on Aug. 25, 2020. (Screenshot of RNC feed)

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds used her primetime address during the Republican National Convention Tuesday night to praise President Donald Trump during as a quick-acting disaster relief manager who helped Iowa through major floods last year and a derecho storm this year.

“This is an administration of action and outcomes,” Reynolds said in a video address recorded at the Iowa Statehouse, the Iowa flag in the background. “They are delivering every day on their promise to make America great again. And that’s exactly why we need to re-elect President Donald J. Trump in November.”

Reynolds told a national audience that Iowa is known for its culture of neighbors helping neighbors. But a hurricane-like wind storm, known as a derecho, on Aug. 10 wiped out as much as half the corn crop in the nation’s top corn-growing state. The storm caused at least $4 billion in damage to crops, buildings, trees and power lines.

The state needed help, Reynolds said, and Trump — who had come to Midwestern states within two days of levee breaks during the 2019 flood — delivered some of the expected federal aid to Iowa less than 24 hours after this month’s wind storm.

“It was the worst storm in our state’s history, and Iowans did what you expect Iowans to do,” Reynolds said. “They helped each other, they took care of each other and still are, but someone else had our back — our president.

“When the winds had finished raging and the cleanup had only begun, he showed up. Now you might not know that because they national media didn’t report it. But the Trump administration was here in full force,” Reynolds said.

“The day after the storm, the president called to assure me that we had the full backing of the federal government,” Reynolds added. Vice President Mike Pence and top officials of the Federal Emergency Management Agency also responded.

Reynolds had told reporters earlier Tuesday that she would use her address to thank the president and his administration.

The Iowa Democratic Party was less impressed. Hours before Reynolds’ address to the GOP faithful aired, the Iowa Democrats lambasted Trump for his one-hour stop at the Cedar Rapids airport after the storm, with no tour on the ground, and for what they consider a poor response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“During a global pandemic — as thousands of Iowans are struggling to recover from the derecho and navigate the compounding economic effects of Trump’s attacks on Social Security and unemployment benefits — Reynolds is still pushing partisan politics,” Iowa Democratic Party Chair Mark Smith said in a statement. “No matter what the governor says today, she cannot paper over her failed COVID-19 response.

“Trump and Reynolds’ failure to contain COVID-19, follow (federal health officials’) protocol, or offer critical resources, has led us to over 56,000 virus cases and killed more than 1,000 Iowans,” Smith said. “All of these individuals left behind family, friends, and communities that will never fully be the same.

“Trump’s mishandling of the pandemic has put our economy in the worst position since the Great Depression,” Smith added. “Hundreds of thousands of Iowans are already out of work and thousands more have lost their health insurance because of this pandemic. And still, Trump has no plan.”

Earlier Tuesday, Reynolds toured storm damage in Cedar Rapids with Jovita Carranza, administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Trump approved a federal disaster declaration for public assistance and federal individual assistance last week for Linn County but the governor’s request for expedited declarations is still pending in 26 other counties.

Reynolds, who spoke to reporters after the tour, said assessments are taking place, there are teams on the ground and “they are working diligently to make that happen.” Reynolds noted the state has 30 days from the date of the Aug. 10 disaster to add more counties and she believes that will occur. She did not name the counties that might be added.

Reynolds said Linn County’s assistance was able to be expedited “because of the incredible amount of damage that was done here,” she said. Officials were able to assess damage from the air and through virtual technology and gather details “in a relatively quick timeline,” she said.

She did not give a timeline for when disaster assistance may be approved for other counties.

The governor announced Tuesday that she has allocated $100 million in federal CARES Act money to farmers and producers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. On Monday, Iowa’s congressional delegation wrote to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to ask for prompt approval of a disaster declaration for 57 Iowa counties that sustained farm losses in the derecho.

Iowans can get up-to-date information and access assistance through the state’s new disaster recovery website: disasterrecovery.iowa.gov


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