WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), a lifelong resident of Southwest Iowa and a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the Iowa National Guard, spoke on the Senate floor today on the devastating flooding in the state. Last week, Senator Ernst visited many constituents in affected communities and met with local, state, and federal officials and emergency personnel in Pottawattamie, Mills and Fremont Counties to review the damage from the flooding.

On the Senate floor, Senator Ernst said, “In the near term, our focus is on recovery efforts, and I will do everything in my power to make sure Iowans have every bit of help they need. We need to get our farms and small businesses back up and running as soon as possible, so Iowans can do what they do best: work hard and take care of their families.”

Click here or on the image above to watch the Senator’s speech.

Below are Senator Ernst’s remarks as prepared for delivery.

“I rise today to speak about the flooding that has devastated wide swaths of the Midwest in recent weeks.

“A harsh winter combined with unseasonably warm weather and heavy rains created conditions that overwhelmed much of our flood mitigation infrastructure up and down the Missouri River and its tributaries.

“In Iowa alone, the flooding has caused an estimated $1.6 billion in damages—thousands of homes have been damaged or destroyed, and nearly 250 miles of levees will need to be repaired or rebuilt.

“Thousands of acres of farmland have been impacted, with losses to the ag sector in excess of $200 million. Fremont County alone has lost $7 million worth of grain.

“I spent much of last week on the ground in Iowa visiting hard hit areas of the state and meeting with local, state, and federal officials.

“In my years as a member of the Iowa National Guard, I was on the front lines of several major floods—including the 2008 Cedar Rapids flood and the 2011 Missouri River flood. I can tell you that the flooding and destruction I witnessed last week was as bad as I’ve ever seen.

“The devastation is simply incomprehensible, with the most severe damage concentrated in Iowa’s westernmost counties.

“I’ve spent most of my life in Southwest Iowa, so this hits particularly close to home for me. When I toured affected communities last week, the folks I met with weren’t just Iowans and constituents, many of them were friends. In this part of the state I’m just as likely to be called “Joni” as “Senator Ernst.” It was heartbreaking to see what they’ve been through.

“It will take a lot of hard work and determination to get our communities back on their feet, but Iowans are resilient people and I know they are up to the task.

“Since the first signs of trouble over a week ago, our state and local emergency response teams have been working together around the clock to help keep their fellow Iowans safe. 

“I credit Governor Reynolds and her office for quickly gathering damage assessments from around the state in order to make a strong case to the President that a federal disaster declaration was warranted.

“I also want to thank President Trump for recognizing the gravity of the situation on the ground in Iowa, and swiftly approving the request. 

“Nearly 60 of Iowa’s counties will now have access to much-needed federal assistance.

“In the near term, our focus is on recovery efforts, and I will do everything in my power to make sure Iowans have every bit of help they need.

“We need to get our farms and small businesses back up and running as soon as possible, so Iowans can do what they do best: work hard and take care of their families. 

“But as we move forward, I intend to review Army Corps of Engineers policies and closely examine how they were applied throughout this flood event.

“It’s important that we study and learn from events like this, so we can try to prevent them from happening again in the future.”

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