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Hinson makes first visit to Meskwaki Nation, still rebuilding after derecho damage

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TAMA COUNTY, Iowa (KWWL) -- Today, Congresswoman Ashley Hinson made two stops in Tama County visiting constituents.

It was the first time Congresswoman Hinson visited the Meskwaki Tribal Settlement.

She asked tribal leaders if they were getting adequate vaccines.

"They assured me that they do," Rep. Ashley Hinson (R) IA-01 said.

The leaders' top concern was getting help from FEMA to rebuild after last summer's derecho.

"The last thing I want is my constituents facing these hurdles when they're already struggling to recover from a disaster and in the middle of a pandemic -- truly a one-two punch," Hinson said.

The community suffered damage to 271 of the 350 homes here.

Lawrence SpottedBird is the executive director of Tribal Operations of Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa. He said only one family was displaced from their home after the derecho.

"Most of them are still habitable," SpottedBird said, "There are a few that people couldn't live in them while they were repairing those homes. Those were a priority."

The Meskwaki Nation has struggled with competing with others in the area for contractors, balancing insurance coverage with the price of materials that escalated substantially after the derecho, and re-building in the middle of winter.

"The issue of working with FEMA and the bureaucratic process was a little more cumbersome," SpottedBird said, "I felt like it was putting more of an administrative burden on us."

Earlier today, Hinson spoke with cattle producers in Toledo about their challenges during the pandemic to bring their product to market -- and what they fear lies ahead.

"There's a lot of concern about the impact of an infrastructure plan or what the tax increases are going to look like," Hinson said, "Many of these businesses -- they're small, small producers, family-owned operations."

Concerns about recovery from the derecho and economic growth for Iowa's cattlemen are what Hinson says she is taking back to Washington.

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Michele White

Cedar Rapids Multimedia Journalist

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