Rebuild Iowa Commission Report Outlines Urgent Needs
DES MOINES, Iowa, September 4, 2008 (ENS) – The Iowa government should ensure housing for all victims of this summer’s floods who need to be relocated, temporarily or permanently, before cold weather arrives, recommends the initial report of the Rebuild Iowa Advisory Commission issued Tuesday. The state should also expedite the flow of funds from the federal level to local governments, the commission advises.
These are two of seven key recommendations made by the 15 member bipartisan commission appointed by Governor Chet Culver to create a blueprint to help Iowa get back on its feet after flooding and tornados that damaged homes and businesses and washed out roads and rail lines across the state.
Governor Culver called the 15 members of the commission “the eyes and ears of all Iowans affected by the storms.”
“Since accepting their appointments, these dedicated men and women have visited communities like Cedar Rapids and Oakville, Palo and Waverly – communities whose citizens have seen the effects of the storms,” Culver said. “The members of the commission have listened to the Iowans whose lives have been changed.”
The commission was assisted by several hundred Iowans who served on nine task forces that each examined a key issue. Hundreds of other Iowans contributed suggestions through Speak-Up Iowa sessions or by submitting ideas electronically.
Commission Chair Major General Ron Dardis of the Iowa National Guard called the report a “vision and consensus.”
“It provides priority issues, immediate recommendations, and subsequent recommendations that are most critical to Iowa’s rebuilding in the immediate term and over time,” said Dardis.
The Iowa River covers most of the
Town of Oakville and surrounding
communities with up to 10 feet of
water. June 21, 2008. (Photo by
Greg Henshall courtesy FEMA)
One of the most immediate needs is for recovery funding from the federal government. Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed a first round of aid in June worth $2.65 billion, not all for Iowa. A second round of funding failed to pass before the August congressional recess.
State officials have said the needs for housing, agriculture, infrastructure and transportation are at least $5 billion.
Democratic leaders in Congress said late last month that they were confident a recovery funding package would be enacted in September.
“The Commission’s work is now complete, and it is time for the administration to review the information and make decisions on the best steps to go forward,” said Iowa Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge, who also serves as executive director of the Rebuild Iowa Office.
The seven key recommendations are:
1. Provide advice and support to individuals and families, businesses, farmers, nonprofit organizations, and others seeking assistance in making their way through the challenges of rebuilding their lives in a case management framework.
2. Ensure immediate needs housing for all who need to be relocated, temporarily or permanently, before cold weather arrives.
3. Provide incentives immediately for Iowa’s struggling small businesses, microenterprises, and non-profits for restoration and rebuilding of their businesses.
4. Complete floodplain mapping for the entire state.
5. Identify and create funding options and provide flexibility for local and state governments to assist Iowa in rebuilding an even better Iowa.
6. Expedite the flow of funds from the federal level, through the state, and to the local levels of government.
7. Provide resources and capacity to ensure public health is maintained.
“In the coming days,” said Governor Culver,” I, along with the Lt. Governor, and members and leadership of the Legislature, will review the recommendations of the report. We will do this with one goal in mind: to quickly and responsibly identify any unmet needs in this state, and then implement the additional measures our administration, and all of state government, can take – working in a bi-partisan, fiscally responsible manner – to help get Iowans back on their feet.”
The commission and the Rebuild Iowa Office will now focus on the next task assigned to them by the governor – preparing a second report that will provide recommendations for long-term disaster recovery in the state. That report is due out later this fall.
The first Rebuild Iowa Advisory Commission report is online at: www.rio.iowa.gov.