AMES, Iowa -- The western Iowa emergency operations center established in late May by Iowa Homeland Security brought together federal, state and local agencies in a coordinated effort to manage needs associated with the Missouri River flooding. From establishing staging areas for water, sandbags and pumps in Woodbury County and the counties south to coordinating ongoing and continuing support, the agencies – including Iowa State University Extension and Outreach – are maintaining their vigilance alongside the people most affected by the flooding.
ISU Extension county offices are organizing community events and have access to extension specialists to address immediate needs of families. By partnering with agencies, media and local businesses, ISU Extension distributes educational materials in a variety of ways to reach those in need of the information. Iowa Concern Hotline (800-447-1985) and Answer Line (800-262-3804) provide answers and connect families to available resources. ISU Extension also has information available for dealing with stress, financial concerns and clean-up on the website, Dealing with Disasters, at www.extension.iastate.edu/topic/recovering-disasters.
In preparation of post-flood needs, teams of Iowa State agriculture and natural resources specialists are working with University of Nebraska specialists and agency personnel from the two states to prepare for the needs of producers and ag industry. The Center for Industrial Research and Services (CIRAS) also is working with Iowa companies and agencies and in partnership with University of Nebraska Extension and their partners.
To understand the impact of flooding to business and industry, CIRAS conducted a survey of more than 190 companies in the six-county area.
“Some manufacturers have moved warehouses or operations, others are thinking about where to relocate if they need to move out of the way of flooding. All are concerned with how to minimize the stress their employees are feeling,” said Ruth Wilcox, CIRAS program manager. “As this disaster continues and the region moves into the recovery process, CIRAS acts as the collective voice for Iowa industry by identifying industry obstacles to exceeding pre-disaster production levels and conveying industry needs to local, state, and federal agencies, organizations and people providing support and resources.”
It was evident during the floods and tornadoes of 2008 that many businesses weren’t adequately prepared for disasters that might befall them. These companies lacked a business continuity plan, a strategy for how to recover their operations following a disaster. In response, CIRAS developed a simplified approach for business continuity to meet the needs of Iowa companies.
“Western Iowa companies that have continuity plans in place have been better able to react to this year’s flooding. For the companies that don’t have plans in place, CIRAS offers businesses a checklist of priority actions to take,” said Bob Coacher, western Iowa CIRAS account manager.
In addition, to inform companies that offer clean-up, construction and disaster recovery services, CIRAS is partnering with Nebraska organizations to sponsor a workshop July 27 in flood recovery and subcontracting. The session will be held at Mammel Hall, 67th and Pine Streets, Aksarben Village, University Nebraska-Omaha. Call CIRAS at 515-294-3420 or visit the CIRAS website for more information: http://www.ciras.iastate.edu/.
ISU Extension field agronomists, agricultural engineers, farm management and livestock specialists are waiting with their Nebraska counterparts and western Iowa farmers for the waters to go down. “Once the waters go down and we can see what we are faced with, we will begin working with county offices to hold grower meetings,” said Aaron Saeugling, ISU Extension field agronomist in southwestern Iowa. “We plan to be in their “back yards” discussing options our farmers have to recover from the flooding.”
Saeugling said the waiting is hard, especially for the farmers that have only a water-soaked levee between the flood waters and their crops. He encourages farm families to remember the help available from the Iowa Concern hotline during these trying times.
PHOTO Caption: Young people attending the Harrison County flood recovery event July 14 enjoy an evening of 4-H youth activities while their parents received valuable flood recovery information.