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Vice President Pledges Support During Flood Tour

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Mike Pence Sees Mills County Flooding First-hand

By Joe Foreman, Editor

The vice president of the United States was in Mills County Friday, viewing levee breaches and flooded farm fields and offering encouragement to victims of the historic Missouri River flooding that’s caused nearly $2 billion damage in western Iowa.

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During a brief appearance at the Lincoln family’s Ridgeview Farms southwest of Pacific Junction, Mike Pence promised support and relief to victims of a flood that’s now regarded as the worst in Mills County history.

“I’m here on the president’s behalf to say to this family and all the families across Iowa, we’re with you,” Pence told his Mills County audience. “We’re going to stay with you, we’re going to work with your governor, work your senators until we rebuild Iowa bigger and better than before.”

Pence viewed flooding in southwest Iowa and the Missouri River valley by helicopter before coming to the Lincolns’ farm. He was joined on his visit to Iowa by the state’s two U.S. Senators - Charles Grassley and Joni Ernst - Gov. Kim Reynolds and Peter Gaynor, acting director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The vice president’s visit to Iowa came just weeks after he made a similar tour of flood damage in eastern Nebraska. Pence was surprised to see so much flooding still in the area.

“It’s remarkable to think that a month has gone by, several weeks since I had the opportunity to be in the area, to see frankly how much is still here, how much devastation still exists,” he said.

Pence toured the property with Dennis Lincoln, operator and manager of the farm. Lincoln showed the vice president the damage to his home and buildings and discussed levee breaches along the river and the immediate and long-range impact the flood will have on the region.

“We talked about that (levee breaches) and we talked about the flood of 1952, which is the worst flood we had ever had before,” Lincoln said. “This is a lot worse than that. I tried to explain to him the magnitude and the devastation of this flood is far worse than 1952.”

Lincoln said he’s hopeful Pence’s visit will help bring attention to the flooding and garner the federal assistance needed to repair and rebuild.

“We need all kinds of help. We need help repairing the damage the flood has done to our farm ground, our infrastructure, our small towns, our businesses, our livelihoods – we need help with all that,” Lincoln said. “He was very interested in our plight and he sounded like he is very dedicated to going back to Washington and trying to get something done to help us out.”

Pence promised to do just that.

“I’ll carry that (message) back, as your senators will, to the leaders on Capitol Hill and call on them to come together and approve a disaster assistance bill for Iowa and Nebraska and do it now,” Pence said.

The vice president made a point to offer praise to Iowa and Nebraska’s first responders and emergency management personnel and noted the resilience of individuals and communities affected by the flooding.

“This is truly the heart of the Heartland and you have all demonstrated it in the midst of this storm,” Pence said.

Pence’s visit marks the first time in 31 years that a sitting vice president has set foot in Mills County. Before Friday, the last appearance by a vice president in office was in January 1988 when George H. Bush made a presidential campaign stop at the Glenwood Fire Station.

Lincoln said it was an honor and a unique experience to host the vice president at his family’s 110-year old farm.
“He was so personable, he was just like talking to a neighbor,” Lincoln said. “He’s asking questions. He’s genuinely interested and concerned on what’s going on out here in Iowa. I was very impressed.”

Lincoln said he was initially contacted about hosting a visit by the vice president early last week. Secret Service representatives began showing up on Tuesday.

Lincoln operates and manages the farm owned by his 93-year-old father, Dean Lincoln, who was part of the official greeting party for the vice president.

“Dad, he was excited,” Dennis Lincoln said. “When they came to me last Tuesday and asked me if I’d be interested in hosting the vice president and greet the vice president here on the farm, I called my dad and I said, ‘Dad, would you like to meet the vice president?’ He was excited. He said, ‘I would love to.’”

Dean had an opportunity to shake the vice president’s hand and share his thoughts about the flood.

“My dad told the vice president we’ve been through this before and we haven’t left yet,” Lincoln said. “We plan on sticking around and sticking it out and keep on farming. We’re not going anywhere.”

Lincoln said he’s hopeful floodwaters will recede this spring and breaches along the Missouri River levee will be repaired in a timely manner. He’s uncertain, however, if he or other farmers in western Mills County will get a crop planted this spring.

“What does it mean for the rest of the year? We don’t know,” he said. “The Corps (Army Corps of Engineers) said the river’s going to remain high. We’ve got breaches in our levee so we don’t have the protection. This year is very doubtful. We don’t know if the ground is going to dry in time to get the crop in. We don’t know about this year, it all depends what Mother Nature does.”