U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security tours flood-damaged cities - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security tours flood-damaged cities

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Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano with Iowa Lt. Gov. Patty Judge Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano with Iowa Lt. Gov. Patty Judge

CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) - In her first trip as Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano told Iowans she's committed to making sure the state's long-term flood recovery goes smoothly.

"As the Secretary of Homeland Security, I very much have Iowa and Iowans on my mind," said Napolitano Wednesday, at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids.

Governor Chet Culver calls her visit a sure sign of support from President Barack Obama and his staff.

"I certainly think that this shows, in many different ways, how much this administration and this new Secretary of Homeland Security care about the people of Iowa," Culver said.

Napolitano saw pictures and videos taken during the height of the flood at the recently-opened Mercy Medical Center. Though she didn't tour any flood-damaged homes in the area, she says this experience will go a long way when she returns to Capitol Hill.

"There's nothing better than seeing with your own eyes what has happened to help make informed decisions that will need to be made in the next year, and the coming years, with respect to other assistance that Iowa may need."

The Secretary acknowledged that the early phase of federal aid was slow, referring to Community Development Block Grant funds riddled with red tape.

"One of the things we will do is go back and see if there is money being held up unecessarily, and see what can be done to unclog them."

Napolitano announced that FEMA approved a $5.8 million loan for disaster relief in Cedar Rapids, Oakville, Palo, New Hartford and Parkersburg.

It will go toward essential services like police and fire departments, bringing the total for federal aid to Iowa to more than $800 million.

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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