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FEMA flood office opens today in Iowa City

BY KEVIN HOFFMAN | OCTOBER 05, 2009 7:20 AM

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The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division will open a flood-recovery office today, bringing with it a staff of 20 project officers for six to 10 months.

“Our mandate is to restore facilities to pre-disaster conditions,” said FEMA spokeswoman Crystal Payton.

FEMA project officers will work together with UI and state officials to determine how to continue restoring buildings and facilities to pre-flood conditions.

The state, along with FEMA, obligated roughly $145 million to cover 125 flood-recovery projects on the UI campus.

The volume and complexity of work that needs to be done for the UI led the agency to open the Iowa City office, said Dave Miller, the administrator of Iowa’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division.

Iowa City was one of the hardest hit areas in the state, and the new location offers direct communication between FEMA and other officials. The new site will also allow the recovery office to conduct work in nearby communities also affected by the floods.

“It seemed appropriate to have that office in Iowa City so that project officers from FEMA and the state can work closely on a daily basis with UI officials to accomplish all the projects necessary for full recovery of the [UI] from the 2008 floods,” Payton said.

UI spokesman Tom Moore said he hadn’t heard about the new FEMA office.

Most of the office’s work will focus on public assistance, primarily fixing damage done to public buildings and facilities. The work won’t play a role in assisting families and individuals affected by flooding.

Hancher Auditorium will be one of the recovery office’s focus points. Hancher suffered significant damage during the flood, and university officials have not yet decided the auditorium’s fate.

“We want to make sure we got it right,” Miller said about efforts to aid the university. “You want to be able to go back and make sure [the UI] got everything it is entitled to.”

Project officers will work continuously over the next few months to help the UI with flood efforts, and the new office will remain in Iowa City until the job is done, Payton said.

“One of our jobs is to work ourselves out of a job,” she said.


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