DES MOINES, Iowa, November 19, 2008 (ENS) - Severe weather and flooding from May 25 through most of June was the worst natural disaster in Iowa history. Termed the "500 year flood" by Governor Chet Culver, the rising waters displaced 40,000 Iowans and disrupted the lives of many others.
On Tuesday, Governor Culver was presented with the 120-day report of the Rebuild Iowa Advisory Commission containing its final recommendations for a long-term vision of recovery and rebuilding. Culver created the commission to develop and recommend policy proposals for recovery efforts statewide.
One of the commission's key recommendations is that the state should invest in and better coordinate local and regional emergency management agencies.
Commission Chairman Iowa National Guard Major General Ron Dardis said, "Not all counties have emergency coordinators. Some coordinators cover multiple counties, some have different duties and some are part-time."
Mike King, who served on the commission, is president of the Iowa Association of Counties. The Creston resident told Radio Iowa today that a number of counties lack the money to pay for a full-time emergency management coordinator.
"We feel very strongly that there should be some form of emergency management at the county level, it just has to be funded by the state and federal government, at least help," King said.
The commission also emphasized the importance of infrastructure investments in sewer systems, roads, and bridges. The panel recommended that the state should take the lead in planning, establishing expectations statewide, and securing funding for infrastructure repair, rebuilding, and construction.
The state should complete a comprehensive infrastructure plan, including transportation, and develop state policy regarding incorporation of smart development principles, green building practices, energy efficiency measures, universal design, and livability appropriately into infrastructure initiatives, the commission recommends.
The state must enact policy to address floodplain and watershed management and complete floodplain mapping for the entire state, the report urges.
The commission recommends that the state formalize the Rebuild Iowa Office and its recovery responsibilities and lead communications efforts to educate Iowans on recovery efforts and planning for future potential disasters.
The central message of the commission's report is that Iowa must never forget this disaster and must do all it can to prevent this magnitude of damage from future disasters.
"Iowa must invest in recovery so the state and Iowans are ready for the future, not just for what was," the report states.
General Dardis said, "We cannot rest until we learn the lessons of this disaster and take the necessary steps to keep disasters from devastating our people, our communities, our land and our economy. The Commission is pleased and confident that the state’s leaders will proceed aggressively to ensure Iowa rebuilds stronger and better for its future."
Governor Culver said he is looking forward to working with the legislature on addressing these issues, and commended leaders in the Iowa House and Senate for creating new Rebuild Iowa committees to give consideration to these recommendations.
The governor repeated his own call for state and national investment in infrastructure as key to rebuilding efforts and job creation statewide.
"As we rebuild, we must be mindful of the infrastructure needs of communities, not just in flood-affected areas, but statewide," said Culver. "This is not a question of just bricks and mortar, but one of quality of life for all Iowans."
The report is online at: http://www.rio.iowa.gov/assets/RIO_120_DAY_REPORT.pdf.
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.