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Gov. Reynolds requests help from White House after Davenport partial building collapse

The formal request for an emergency declaration comes more than a week after the west side of the century-old, six-story apartment building crumbled on May 28.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Gov. Kim Reynolds on Wednesday asked the White House for reimbursement for the response to a partially collapsed building in Davenport, Iowa, and assistance with the demolition of the remaining structure.

The formal request for an emergency declaration comes more than a week after the west side of the century-old, six-story apartment building crumbled on May 28, leaving three dead and dozens displaced.

Reynolds was on the site of the building Monday to tour the damage and receive a briefing from city officials. The governor issued an emergency proclamation on May 29 to deploy state resources to the response.

Reynolds' letter to President Joe Biden asserts that the partial collapse “is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capability of the State and the affected local governments.” The emergency response is estimated to be at least $5 million, according to the governor's request.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

There will be no federal investigation of the collapse. The National Institute of Standards and Technology investigates some of them, but only when the findings could lead to recommendations that would reduce the risk of future disasters. The Davenport building is simply too old for an investigation to lead to things like building code updates, said Jennifer Huergo, a spokeswoman for the agency, in a written statement.

Huergo stressed that the agency was “disturbed” and following what is happening.

Davenport officials earlier said they were working to ensure that property owner Andrew Wold would be billed for demolition costs. City spokeswoman Sarah Ott didn’t immediately respond to a message about those efforts in light of the request for federal funding for demolition and cleanup expenses.

Wold released a statement dated May 30 saying, “Our thoughts and prayers are with our tenants.” He has made no statement since then, and efforts to reach him, his company and a man believed to be his attorney have been unsuccessful.

Work to bring down the building comes amid questions about why neither the owner nor city officials warned residents about potential danger even after a 911 call that expressed concern about the west wall's structural integrity and a structural engineer’s report issued the week before indicated that wall was at imminent risk of crumbling.

City documents, released last week and cited in lawsuits filed by residents, suggest concerns were conveyed to the city and Wold over the course of months.

Tenants also complained to the city in recent years about a host of problems they say were ignored by property managers, including no heat or hot water for weeks or even months at a time, as well as mold and water leakage from ceilings and toilets. While city officials tried to address some complaints and gave vacate orders to individual apartments, a broader evacuation was never ordered, records show.

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