COUNCIL BLUFFS — President Barack Obama is visiting the wrong part of Iowa, Gov. Terry Branstad said.
Branstad said Monday he will urge the president to tour flood-scarred western Iowa when the two meet during the president's tour of an aluminum factory Tuesday in the eastern Iowa town of Bettendorf.
Obama and Branstad are expected to talk about the floods a day after the president declared a disaster for areas of western Iowa hit hard by the Missouri River flood.
Nebraska was declared a federal disaster about a week ago.
“I think the president would have been wiser to come to western Iowa than eastern Iowa,” Branstad said after touring levees in the Bluffs.
“He needs to come here and see it himself,” said Branstad, who called this year's water a “historic flood.”
Branstad and U.S. Rep. Steve King flew over the Missouri River on Monday, stopping to visit several towns, including Council Bluffs and Hamburg.
The two Republicans weren't the only Iowa elected officials to tour the region. Earlier in the day U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin and U.S. Rep. Leonard Boswell, both Democrats, toured the waterworks facility in Council Bluffs.
All four elected officials agreed that Obama's decision to declare the flood a federal disaster was good news.
It will allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency and others to secure federal dollars to help the region cover the cost of fighting the flood — and to help when the waters recede.
“They can start using the machinery of the federal government to help with recovery,” King said.
Harkin said FEMA also can help local governments cover the costs of monitoring levees and, in the event of a catastrophic breach, the agency can help people move to safety.
“If, God forbid, there needs to be an evacuation, FEMA can help,” Harkin said.
Council Bluffs and other communities along the river are working around the clock to monitor the levees against a rising Missouri River.
But the Missouri hasn't been the region's only problem.
Weekend rains flooded streets and basements throughout Council Bluffs. In all, an estimated 300 homes have had their basements flooded, said Alan Byers, the city's fire chief.
“The groundwater table, Sir, is kicking our butts,” Byers told the governor.
The politicians also agreed that when the flooding stops, a review of how the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers handled the flood is in order.
However, Harkin made clear he thought the corps had done nothing wrong, amid criticism from some quarters that it misjudged the snowpack in Montana and North Dakota and should have released water sooner from the upstream dams.
“I do not blame the corps,” Harkin said.
“When this thing is all over, I think it would be good to have a comprehensive review,” Branstad said.
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Video: Branstad on flooding