Iowa began the year without many money worries. The state treasury was flush with higher than expected tax revenues, in part because farmers were prospering from high corn and soybean prices. There was even a modest budget surplus.
Then came weeks of damaging tornadoes and flooding that killed 18 people, drove 38,000 people from their homes and destroyed farms, businesses, roads, bridges and sewers. Now Gov. Chet Culver (D) is considering calling a special session of the Legislature to determine the state's role in repairing the damage.
"You'll come back better," President Bush told Culver and local officials in Cedar Rapids on June 19. "Sometimes it's hard to see it when you're this close to the deal."
Iowa was one of 17 states whacked this year by an unusually severe outbreak of storms, with financial, public safety, infrastructure and environmental repercussions that could take state officials years to resolve. The tornadoes and floods also will bring attention once again to the federal government's response to disasters after the Hurricane Katrina debacle almost three years ago, emergency management officials say.
Hurricane season started June 1, so more states could face disasters. But already 2008 has been unusual, meteorologists say, because of the frequency of fast-moving storms that have occurred at night in populated areas. About 60 people a year die in tornadoes, but this year 118 have been killed, the most in 10 years, according to the National Weather Service.
"The year started out active and we've had a number of unfortunate, tragic events. That's what has made this year notable," said Greg Carbin, a meteorologist at the federal Storm Prediction Center in Oklahoma.
Read the full report Violent Weather Taking Toll on States on Stateline.org.