COUNCIL BLUFFS — Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds walked the Playland Park levee Thursday to get a close-up view of the work being done to protect Council Bluffs from floodwaters.
Reynolds, who had seen the flooding only from the air, said being on the ground gave her a better understanding of the difficulties the city is facing.
"You absolutely do not get the impact (flying over)," she said. "When you are on the ground, you can see firsthand the issues you are dealing with."
Reynolds toured near Onawa Thursday before driving to Council Bluffs. She said standing on a bridge on State Highway 175 gave her a new perspective of the speed with which the water is moving.
"You have a better feel for the devastating power that causes the water to eat away at the roads and the land," she said.
Council Bluffs Mayor Tom Hanafan and Public Information Officer Don Gross explained a number of problems the city is dealing with in just a short stretch of the levee near the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge.
Gross pointed out a seepage blanket recently installed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and a pump set up to remove water from the parking lot of the River Park Apartments.
"It is a challenge keeping all the pumps going," Gross told Reynolds. "But our public works guys are on it."
Reynolds said the work of city employees, volunteers, Iowa National Guard soldiers and state agencies has been invaluable.
"It is devastating dealing with this, but it would be so much worse if not for all of the people working day and night," she said.
The economic impact of the flood will not be realized until after the waters recede, Reynolds said, but the stress and uncertainty continue to wear on residents. Reynolds said her trip, and previous trips by Gov. Terry Branstad and Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director General Derek Hill, are intended to make sure residents know the state is supporting their efforts.
Pottawattamie County Emergency Management Agency Director Jeff Theulen said he discussed what the county needs to do to get an individual aid piece signed by the president.
President Barack Obama approved a disaster declaration for Pottawattamie, Fremont, Harrison, Mills, Monona and Woodbury Counties on June 27. The declaration qualified public entities to receive reimbursement of costs associated with Missouri River flooding.
Branstad signed a state proclamation to enact the State Individual Assistance Grant Program. The state program provides grants to families with household incomes at or below twice the federal poverty index. Applicants need to provide all receipts for replacement items claimed. The maximum grant a family can receive is $5,000.
The Iowa program would be automatically canceled if the president issued an individual disaster declaration.