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No Recess Without Relief

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No Recess Without Relief

In the days leading up to the June floods, I joined others in sandbagging efforts in Ottumwa and Iowa City and felt demoralized at times when it was clear our work could not save every home and business. However, few things have been as demoralizing as the response of federal officials in the aftermath of those widespread, destructive floods.

After the floods devastated so many Iowans' lives, I toured the hardest-hit communities with local leaders like Cedar Rapids City Councilman Chuck Wieneke, Mike Hodges in Oakville and city officials in Columbus Junction. I learned firsthand of the floods' impact on the National Czech & Slovak Museum and Library from board member Sue Plotz Olson and the University of Iowa from Ann Rosenthal, senior engineer in the Facilities Services Group.

Viewing these disaster areas was overwhelming and heart-wrenching, but it is nothing compared to the pain of our fellow Iowans who have lost so much of their lives and livelihoods. It was sobering to visualize the remnants of sandbags and all of our weeks of labor, and then the magnitude of the unbridled river which spanned almost eight miles in Oakville from its mouth at the Mississippi to where it actually emptied after the levee broke.

While I believe, as did Thomas Jefferson, that size and duties of the federal government should be limited, disaster relief is one of the true functions of the federal government. I think that we should not leave people without any knowledge of the status of their homes or small businesses, if they can rebuild or if they will have any funds to do so.

I saw the tremendous efforts of Iowa volunteers and church organizations from as far away as Tennessee and Georgia in Oakville helping remove debris. It is incredible to see the progress made in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City.

Now, however, is the time for government to step up and do its job. For individuals to pay property taxes on a property which no longer exists is mindboggling. For Congress and the Senate to go on recess without a disaster relief bill for the Midwest is a travesty.

I have met homeowners who are hard-working people, paying on their mortgage and they will be left with existing debt and no house and no ability to acquire a new residence. I have met elderly retired people in the late 70s and 80s whose only asset was the house in which they have lived 50 years. Now, they have lost all their memories and their house. They have little ability to recover.

I call upon all Iowans to contact their representatives and all government officials to condemn the inaction of our Congress and Senate, especially as it relates to the most vulnerable among us.

Call on them to stay in Washington - and stay in session - until they sign into law a disaster relief bill that restores hope to hard-working responsible Iowans in their most vulnerable time, or we truly are the flyover state.


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