Trump Approves Emergency Aid for Iowa After Derecho Storm Flattens Crops, Neighborhoods

August 17, 2020 Updated: August 17, 2020

President Donald Trump on Monday said he approved federal disaster funding for Iowa after devastating storms hit the state, causing significant damage to towns and farms.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, announced Sunday that she requested some $4 billion to the state after the Aug. 10 storm.

“I just approved an emergency declaration for Iowa,” Trump told reporters at the White House before going to the Midwest. “It really did a lot of damage,” he added, referring to the storm.

Weather officials said a derecho—or a widespread straight-line wind storm—hit much of the Midwest with wind speeds that rival hurricanes or tornadoes. Wind speeds reached more than 100 mph in some areas in Iowa.

“We are heading now to a combination of different places. We may do a surprise visit,” Trump said of Iowa, according to The Hill. “A surprise visit to Iowa. If we can get it in, we are going to do that.” The president is slated to give speeches on the economy in Makato, Minnesota, and Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

The president also said the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is in the state and carrying out mitigation efforts.

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Downed trees and a utility pole in front of the home of Tim and Patricia Terres in Walcott, Iowa, after high winds and heavy rain passed through the area in Davenport, Iowa, on Aug. 10, 2020. (Kevin E. Schmidt/Quad City Times via AP)
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A tree fell across vehicles at a home after a severe thunderstorm moved across the state in West Des Moines, Iowa, on Aug. 10, 2020. (David Pitt/AP Photo)
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Two men survey the damage to their cars after a severe thunderstorm battered neighborhoods in Chicago, Ill., on Aug. 10, 2020. (Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)

Media reports said the storm caused at least three deaths in Iowa. Winds as high as 100 miles per hour hit eastern Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, and parts of Illinois.

The storm impacted 37.7 million acres of farmland across the Midwest, including 14 million in Iowa, the Iowa Soybean Association said on Aug. 14, citing estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“I’ve never seen the corn flattened as much as it has from this terrific windstorm,” Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) told reporters on Monday. “The number of grain bins flattened is humongous.”

The storm affected 58,000 holders of crop-insurance policies with a liability of around $6 billion in Iowa, according to the Iowa Soybean Association. Grassley said crop insurance covers about 90 percent of Iowa farmland. It is too early to determine whether there will be enough storage space for the autumn harvest, he said.

Reuters contributed to this report.