SEPTEMBER 5TH, 2008 | Harkin for Senate
Read the original story at The Gazette Online
Iowa’s two U.S. senators called Wednesday for the Bush administration to release disaster relief funds authorized weeks after this summer’s floods.
Iowa is still waiting for $85 million in community block grants that were part of the disaster relief package signed into law June 30 by President Bush. The money, part of $300 billion for Midwest states hit by floods and tornadoes, is hung up in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s distribution process.
The money could be used for buyouts of flooded property, infrastructure repair or mitigation projects.
In their joint letter, Democrat Tom Harkin and Republican Chuck Grassley told HUD Secretary Steve Preston, “There is a desperate need for this assistance to be made swiftly available.”
In Cedar Rapids on Tuesday for the release of the Rebuild Iowa Advisory Commission report, said much of the money would flow to Cedar Rapids, “the largest community, the most-impacted community.”
“It is not there,” said Judge, a Democrat. “The money is in Washington, D.C., and it has not been released. It’s a very slow process.”
To get the money to the states, HUD must issue a notice of funding availability, according to Harkin spokeswoman Jennifer Mullin. Each state then applies for grants under the conditions spelled out in the notice, and the agency releases the funds.
Sherry Kuntz, a senior legislative aide in Grassley’s office, said the delay may result from the disaster’s scope and complexity. Damage estimates are still being compiled by the nine states covered by the legislation.
“They’re trying to determine how to divide the money up, based on damages, and these damage numbers keep changing,” Kuntz said.
States may make local grants based on the amount they expect to receive, but, Kuntz said, “I think the state of Iowa is being very cautious. The state doesn’t want to put together their full work plan if there’s going to be some revisions.”
Kevin Teale, communications director for the Rebuild Iowa Office, said the state’s formal request is “99 percent ready” to go to HUD when the notice is received.