Global Boiling: One Year Later, Iowa Still Devastated By Extreme Floods

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"Global Boiling: One Year Later, Iowa Still Devastated By Extreme Floods"

Iowa houseAs the White House releases a report on the devastating impacts of global warming to the United States today, Iowans are still struggling to rebuild from the extreme floods that ravaged their state one year ago. This kind of terrible flood was predicted in the 2000 edition of the U.S. Global Change Research Program report as a consequence of the warming climate in the Midwest. Cedar Rapids took the brunt of the floods, suffering over $5 billion dollars in damage:

Iowa sustained $8 billion to $10 billion in statewide damage from the floods and tornadoes that struck in 2008, according to state estimates. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced $517 million in new community block grants for Iowa last week as part of a $3.7 billion package for 11 states. Iowa’s share will help pay for home buyouts, public works projects, business aid and new flood safeguards as well as other needs. The federal government has now sent more than $3 billion to Iowa since the disasters, Gov. Chet Culver said last week in Cedar Rapids. Culver’s $830 million I-JOBS bonding plan, an effort to create new jobs and upgrade state infrastructure, includes nearly $300 million for flood-related projects that include housing assistance and building repairs at the University of Iowa. Culver also signed a $56 million aid package in February that includes forgivable loans, grants and other assistance for home and business owners. — USA Today

Thousands of flood-damaged homes lie vacant in the core of Cedar Rapids, a city of 120,000 hard hit by June 2008 flooding that inundated towns and farms across the Midwestern United States. “Are we satisfied with that progress? No, clearly not,” Cedar Rapids City Manager Jim Prosser said. “A lot of people whose lives aren’t even close to being whole yet have a lot of unanswered questions, bills to pay, and don’t have the resources to recover.” . . . Some 1,300 property owners in neighborhoods that resemble war zones have asked the government to buy them out, but the city cannot act until funding arrives. — Reuters

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shawn Donovan, who was in Cedar Rapids this week, promised that the Obama administration would work to streamline the bureaucratic process. He also announced $500 million in new federal flood recovery funds for Iowa. Some of that money will go toward the long-awaited buyouts. But local officials say much more federal funding is needed, and it may take 10 years or more for Cedar Rapids to fully recover. — NPR

Even as some of Iowa’s elected officials, including Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-IA) and Rep. Steve King (R-IA), still question the need for strong legislation to halt global warming, their state is dealing with the catastrophic costs of weather gone out of control.

Update

At today’s briefing for the Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States report, the authors explained that action must be taken now:

Jerry Mellilo, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole: “The impacts we reported are not opinions to be debated, they are facts to be dealt with.”

Thomas Karl, NOAA : “There are some tipping points that have already been crossed, and sea level rise is a good example.”

Jane Lubchenco, NOAA chief: “I think this report is a game-changer. This report provides the concrete scientific information that climate change is happening now and in people’s backyards. . . . It affects you and the things you care about.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) “told a meeting of the Senate Finance Committee that a cap-and-trade bill is “pain and no gain” without the participation of countries like China.”

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