Democrat Abby Finkenauer didn’t waste much time after the storm clouds passed to start criticizing the Governor’s storm response to Monday’s terrible storms that ravaged the state, laid waste to millions of acres of crops, and devastated communities.
On Thursday, congresswoman Abby Finkenauer a Democrat sent a letter to the Governor, a Republican asking for more resources. This is seen as a typical action for an elected official to take, but later in the day, in a video she posted, took multiple swipes at the Governor, implying that she had been idle after the storm.
On my way to Davenport to view storm damage. Crop damage significant and wide spread. pic.twitter.com/34q3EgChri
— Kim Reynolds (@KimReynoldsIA) August 12, 2020
Contrary to Finkenauer’s claim Immediately after the storms, Gov. Reynolds approved a state disaster proclamation for 25 Iowa counties. She has also dispatched the Iowa National Guard to Linn County and toured the damage across the state. Gov. Reynolds met Thursday with the Vice President to secure the Trump Administration’s continued commitment for federal support. On Friday, she is scheduled to hold a press conference in Cedar Rapids to give additional updates on the storm response.
Congresswoman Finkenauer’s conduct left some wondering that her criticisms had less to do with helping her constituents but instead had more to do with the fact that she was in a tough reelection fight and is attempting to leverage the events for political gain. Adding to the suspicion that she was trying to politicize the storm is the fact that Finkenauer appears to be the only member of the Iowa congressional dedication attacking the Governor on the matter. This leads to questions that she and her office do not understand the process of a presidential disaster declaration, or worse, they don’t care.
The presidential disaster declaration is a process. It requires the Governor to make a request via the state’s designated FEMA regional office. In Iowa’s case, that is in Kansas City, Missouri. Then, according to the FEMA website, “State and Federal officials conduct a preliminary damage assessment (PDA) to estimate the extent of the disaster and its impact on individuals and public facilities. This information is included in the Governor’s request to show that the disaster is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and the local governments and that Federal assistance is necessary.”
Republican congressional candidate Ashly Hinson, Finkenauer’s opponent, didn’t seem to share her opponent’s views. She tweeted out this afternoon that the Governor had been a strong leader after the crisis.
Thank you for your strong leadership Governor Reynolds! We have been in constant contact regarding the devastation from the derecho. She is working 24/7 to get everyone in #IA01 the help they need both from the federal level and the state as quickly as possible. https://t.co/FMKfJHuOai
— Ashley Hinson (@hinsonashley) August 14, 2020
U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley also took to twitter to praise Gov. Reynolds’s efforts to help Iowa. He reminded his followers that he and Senator Ernst stand ready to help Iowa receive federal approval for disaster declarations.
Thx @IAGovernor Reynolds for working quickly to approve disaster proclamations for counties while also traveling the state to see firsthand the damage from this devastating storm. Ernst & I stand ready 2help Iowa get quick approval on FEMA disaster declaration when requested
— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) August 13, 2020
In the video posted today, Finkenauer said that Cedar Rapids had only minutes to prepare for the storm, leading several area meteorologists to take issue with her claim on twitter.
Definitely incorrect… Des Moines Mets were aware that it was headed to Des Moines more than an hour before. Went wall to wall with coverage 30 minutes before it hit Des Moines at 11 AM… and it was headed straight to the East to impact Cedar Rapids next. https://t.co/hQFG0n6f05
— Megan Salois (@WXMegs) August 13, 2020
Alliant Energy, Mid American energy, and some municipal utilities are working around the clock to restore power to those affected by the storms. Since work began on Monday night, Alliant Energy has restored power to over 100,000 of its customers as of 10:40 am Thursday. However, Alliant Energy’s outage website still shows close to 130,000 customers without power.
Aaron Britt, communications director for the Republican Party of Iowa, took issue with Finkenauer’s conduct. He provided the following quote to Iowa Field Report, “Absent Abby only shows up for her district when it’s politically convenient. Never mind that the Governor has been touring Iowa and assessing the damage, declaring disaster emergencies in the hardest-hit counties. Finkenauer is playing games with an unprecedented storm to score cheap political points. It’s past time Iowans had a Representative that actually has their best interests at heart.”