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Every Penny Is 'Precious' Says Iowa Governor Chet Culver

DES MOINES, Iowa, July 10, 2008 (ENS) – As he does his job of helping Iowans clean up and recover from the disastrous June floods, Governor Chet Culver is already thinking ahead to preventing the next flood emergency.

In a webcast interview with the Editorial Board of the “Des Moines Register” newspaper today, the governor said, “We’re going to have limited resources and every penny is going to be precious.”

“Let’s take steps right now to prevent devastation and destruction when the next floods hit the state,” Culver said.


Iowa Governor Chet Culver, left, and
Lt. Governor Patty Judge on their
webcast from the Des Moines Register.

Iowa rivers, swollen with rain, overflowed from June 8 to July 1, washing out everything in their path – roads, railroad bridges, power lines, crops, businesses, thousands of homes, and many public buildings.

In Cedar Rapids, damage estimates now stand at over $1 billion. About 1,300 blocks, including most of downtown, were flooded, with 3,900 homes affected.

Cedar Rapids City Manager Jim Prosser told the City Council Wednesday that the city will seek federal funds immediately to help cover the estimated $500 million recovery costs and $810 million costs to erect levees and floodwalls and possibly buy out properties in an attempt at prevention of future damages.

When the Iowa River topped its banks and inundated the University of Iowa’s campus, it caused damages worth at least $232 million, the university said Tuesday in a report to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

To lead disaster recovery efforts, in June Governor Culver established by executive order the 15 member Rebuild Iowa Advisory Commission, which is a joint effort between the Iowa Legislature and executive branch.

Major General Ron Dardis of the Iowa National Guard heads the commission, which is now out learning about the needs of the flooded communities first-hand. Its initial report is expected in mid-August.

On the webcast this morning the governor thanked Iowans who have helped financially, including the Des Moines Register and said he has seen “an amazing outpouring of generosity from businesses” locally, across the country and around the world.

Culver says his office will be contacting people across the country who may be able to help raise funds for recovery. “We will engage foundations, Gates, Rockefeller,” he said.

U.S. Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa said today that he will seek to pass two more disaster assistance bills to help Iowa recover. Harkin is seeking more precise assessments of damage from state and local officials so that he will have a bottom line to propose.

Meanwhile, the ING Foundation today announced it is contributing $1 million to the Greater Des Moines Community Foundation for Embrace Iowa – the 2008 Iowa Disaster Fund to support flood relief efforts.

The ING Foundation is the charitable arm of the financial services company ING, a global financial institution of Dutch origin.

“The flooding has been devastating to the people in the Midwest,” said Rhonda Mims, president of the ING Foundation. “ING has strong ties to the Des Moines community, and we have a responsibility to help empower the communities in which we have business operations and our employees live. This contribution will benefit Iowans who have experienced significant hardship and help them to recover, rebuild and strengthen the area.”


Governor Chet Culver meets with
Iowans affected by the floods.
June 16, 2008 (Photo
courtesy FEMA)

Embrace Iowa [www.desmoinesfoundation.org] was launched with close to $2 million in contributions from Des Moines individuals and business organizations. Governor Culver today said that the Embrace Iowa website can help with unmet needs after federal, state programs are exhausted.

The Best Buy retail store chain is offering to collect and recycle thousands of consumer electronic goods, or e-goods, that were ruined by the Iowa floods.

An official partner of the U.S. EPA’s Plug-In To eCycling program since 2006, Best Buy has contracted with the Materials Processing Corp., which will recycle 100 percent of all e-goods collected from Iowa’s flooded areas.

The EPA says 5,544 pieces of electronic equipment will be put on 250 pallets for transportation to processing facilities in Egan, Minnesota. Six semi-trucks will be used to transport the damaged materials collected from several Iowa cities.

Since June 22, EPA Region 7 on-scene coordinators have been collecting household hazardous wastes, orphan containers, white goods and e-goods. They have collected some 107,200 pieces of household hazardous waste.

Best Buy’s activities in support of the flood cleanup are at no cost to the federal government. They also reduce costs for disposal because the collected e-goods will not be taken to landfills.

On the webcast, Lt. Governor Patty Judge paid tribute to the Iowa spirit, saying, “Iowans are extremely resilient people. But it’s now up to us to figure out what we can contribute, what the federal government can do and go to local people to find out what they need.”

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