Iowa governor asks Biden for presidential disaster declaration following severe flooding

Nearly 2,000 properties were affected by flooding caused be recent torrential rain. Photo courtesy of Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds/X
Nearly 2,000 properties were affected by flooding caused be recent torrential rain. Photo courtesy of Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds/X

June 23 (UPI) -- Gov. Kim Reynolds on Sunday asked President Joe Biden to expedite a disaster declaration for nearly two dozen counties in Iowa as the state has suffered significant damage from severe storms and widespread flooding that began Friday.

The Republican governor asked for the federal assistance for 22 counties, according to a statement from her office.

During a Sunday press conference, Reynolds said the impacted areas are mostly in northwestern Iowa. Some areas received up to 15 inches of rain since Friday, she said while warning those in southern Iowa that their rivers may soon overflow too.

The National Weather Service said the recent torrential rainfalls have led to widespread areal and river floods of the Upper Des Moines and Cedar River basins.

"I can tell you the devastation is severe and it's widespread," Reynolds said. "While we're still very early in the response, projected damage is staggering."

Authorities performed som 250 water rescues on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds/X
Authorities performed som 250 water rescues on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds/X

An estimated 1,900 properties have been impacted with hundreds destroyed, she said. Overnight, 1,000 people were sheltered. Some 250 water rescues were performed on Saturday alone, she added.

"Businesses have been shuttered, main streets have been impacted, hospitals, nursing homes and other care facilities were evacuated, cities are without power and some are without drinking water," she said.

She said the flooding has raised river levels to several feet above those reached by the historic floods of 1993. Sixteen flood gauges recorded record heights over the weekend, she explained.

Ten water and 21 wastewater systems have also been affected by the flooding.

However, as the floodwaters begin to recede and river levels drop in the north, southern Iowans should prepare for their rivers to crest, she said.

"It's not over yet," she said.

John Benson, director of the Iowa Emergency Management Department, reiterated that they are in "a very serious flood" and "it is not going to cease."

"It's going to blast across the state," he said.

The National Weather Service on Sunday said more severe storms could return Monday evening and again on Tuesday.