And more flooding is possible. Continuing snowmelt to the north and the prospects for above normal spring rains flowing into rivers already primed to rise has state and local officials on alert.
"There's a possibility that more flooding is on the way, especially on the western side of the state," Reynolds said at a news conference Thursday in
"Why it was really important for me to have the opportunity to talk with them is they've done significant things since the 2008 flood, whether it's mitigation or just processes they put in place," Reynolds said. "We saw the result of that in the 2016 flooding, how well prepared they were. We discussed strategies for taking proactive steps."
But the real test for Reynolds will come after the helicopters have landed, the emergency response has ended and floodwaters have receded. It will come once she discovers, as other governors have, that the federal response only goes so far, and not far enough.
Recovery will require a state response, and its success or failure could define Reynolds' first elected term as governor.
Her predecessors' tests can offer lessons.
Her mentor, former Gov.
But Culver sold his plan mainly as job-creation effort in the midst of the Great Recession. As much as it succeeded as a flood recovery program, it created only a fraction of the jobs Culver promised. Culver, dubbed "Big Debt Chet" by Branstad during the 2010 election campaign, paid a hefty political price.
But for all the criticism they heaped on Culver,
Reynolds talked Thursday about the need for proactive, long-term and regional responses. That's good to hear. She also suggested the Legislature would play a role.
"They're in session, let's do that now so we'll be ready to go," Reynolds said.
She talked of "mother nature at its worst," a "bomb cyclone" and a "perfect storm" of factors feeding flooding.
But there's been no mention of climate changes feeding heavier precipitation events in the Midwest, considerably raising flooding risks. Scientists have been warning us of the implications for years. Reynolds, who has the ear of the Trump administration, could point out that Iowans' lives and livelihoods are not being swept away annually by a hoax.
Water quality measures that control farm fertilizer runoff double as flood mitigation. A bill signed last year by Reynolds providing new funding for water quality is woefully inadequate. And there's been no new gubernatorial or legislative proposals, so far, this year. Instead, some
While local governments, such as
The need for more flood mitigation infrastructure funding, land use changes and conservation projects is large and obvious. But we've seen no plans from the governor or
Floods demand a swift gubernatorial response. Reynolds is passing that test.
But the far bigger test is how Reynolds will address the larger issues feeding these floods and increasing their severity. Tackling them in a meaningful way will demand political courage. Declaring disasters is one thing, but averting them is in the future is the mark of true leadership.
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