Low Income Iowans Urged to Seek Disaster Aid / Public News Service

Hundreds of thousands of Iowa households and businesses have seen lengthy power outages after last week’s storms. The National Guard is helping to restore electric service. (Adobe Stock)

August 17, 2020

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Many parts of Iowa are still reeling from last week’s storms and their widespread damage. And lower-income residents are being reminded that emergency help is available.

The storms left scores of Iowans without power, and many are still waiting for electricity. First District Rep. Abby Finkenauer said food access is another big concern, with supplies going to waste during the lengthy outages.

She said the type of storm that happened, known as a derecho, brought hurricane-like conditions to a region not used to something so destructive coming with little warning.

“With hurricanes, you typically have days’ notice, at least usually, to be able to get medication, prepare for not having electricity, you name it,” Finkenauer said. “And unfortunately, in this case, that did not happen.”

For families who might not have access to equipment such as a back-up generator, the state says there are options. Through the Department of Human Services, households who currently receive food assistance can request replacement for food that was destroyed or spoiled. Those households have 10 calendar days from when they discover the food loss to complete the application.

Gov. Kim Reynolds has come under fire over what some say has been a slow response from her office. Going into the weekend, she defended the state’s approach in dealing with the emergency and sent in the National Guard to help with efforts to restore power more quickly.

Meanwhile, Finkenauer said, Iowans need all the help they can get right now.

“We need shelters, we need food, we need ice, we need gas – you name it,” he said.

On Sunday, Gov. Reynolds did submit the state’s request for an expedited federal disaster declaration, seeking nearly $4 billion in assistance.

As for state-level aid, Iowa also offers disaster relief grants to households that meet certain low-income requirements. More information is on the Department of Human Services website.

Mike Moen, Public News Service – IA

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