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Gov. Reynolds tells two very different stories about derecho relief to Iowans, the RNC on Tuesday


Gov. Kim Reynolds addresses the Republican National Convention during its second day, praising President Trump’s response to the derecho in Iowa.

Gov. Kim Reynolds’ Tuesday night speech to the Republican National Convention may have surprised anyone who listened to her news conference in Cedar Rapids earlier on Tuesday.

During the news conference, Reynolds said she believes not all the federal aid she asked for to help Iowans recover from the Aug. 10 derecho will be approved.

“In some areas, I think, they already have made the determination that they probably don’t [qualify],” the governor said about FEMA, the agency in charge of approving federal disaster aid. “But some of the more impacted areas like Marshalltown, Benton, Tama — we’re continuing to run the numbers.”

Reynolds did not name which areas of the state will not be receiving the requested aid.

Instead of immediately applying for federal assistance, as Gov. Chet Culver did in 2008 after a powerful tornado struck two counties, Reynolds waited six days to submit a request for a major disaster declaration. The governor has said she believed it would be better to submit a more complete application, instead of later requesting additional federal aid as Culver did. (Culver made his first request the day after the tornado, and President George W. Bush approved it within 24 hours.)

Trump did act on Reynolds’ request the day after it was submitted, tweeting he had approved “the FULL Emergency Declaration for the Great State of Iowa.” This was not true.

Reynolds asked for a total of $3.98 billion in FEMA aid for Iowa. Trump only approved the FEMA Public Assistance Reynolds requested for 16 counties on Aug. 17, despite his tweet. That assistance can be used to repair public infrastructure and clear debris. The funds amount to $45 million or 1.1 percent of what the governor requested.

The remaining 98.9 percent of the aid Reynolds applied for is FEMA Individual Assistance, which provides funds to residents and businesses in storm-damaged areas. Reynolds applied for that assistance for 27 counties.

Four days after Reynolds submitted her application — 10 days after the derecho — Trump approved FEMA Individual Assistance for Linn County. This aid has not yet been approved for any of the other 26 counties. It remains “under review.”

But Gov. Reynolds did not allow these facts to get in the way of her heaping praise on the president for his response to the derecho in her convention speech.

In her prerecorded address, Reynolds said Iowans had helped each other following the derecho.

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

This, of course, is not true.

The president had a 70-minute stopover at the Eastern Iowa Airport eight days after the derecho as he was traveling to Arizona for a campaign rally. During the stopover, Trump was part of a panel discussion about derecho damage and recovery with local, state and federal officials. The president never left the airport.

The national media did report on Trump’s stopover in Iowa, although most of the reporting didn’t mention he never left the airport.

Also, for much of the first week following the derecho, the “full force” of the Trump administration in Iowa was FEMA representatives working with state officials as they prepared the paperwork for the federal aid request.

“The day after the storm, the president called to assure me that we had the full backing of the federal government,” Reynolds continued in her prerecorded RNC speech. “And later that week, Vice President Pence came to Iowa to again assure us that the president and his administration were behind us.”

Vice President Pence came to Iowa for a previously scheduled campaign event at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. He did not tour parts of the state affected by the derecho.

During her news conference on Tuesday, Reynolds said she might request federal aid for additional counties, even though only part of her previous request has been approved.

Residents and businesses in the 26 counties where FEMA Individual Aid has not yet been approved can still apply for financial assistance from the state.

Reynolds’ speech was among the many clips from the RNC that were posted to President Trump’s Twitter page. Like the other clips from Tuesday night, it was posted without comment.

Reynolds, however, did comment on her Twitter page, when she posted a link to convention coverage.

“Honored to address the Republican National Convention this evening and talk about the great state of Iowa and the partner we have in President @realDonaldTrump!”


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