July 3, 2024: Extension's Flood Response Update

Dear Colleagues,

As we head into the July 4th holiday, many communities across Iowa are in some stage of flood preparation, response or early recovery. The damage has been devastating in the Northwest, counties along the Missouri and Mississippi River are closely monitoring water levels, and flash flood warnings in central Iowa present risks in the Raccoon River basin.

When disaster strikes, ISU Extension and Outreach responds locally, as our colleagues in the flooded communities have done over these past days. They have been working non-stop with local officials and agencies, distributing vital information about immediate resources, offering office space, serving meals, coordinating volunteers, and beginning clean up.

Our colleagues in Clay and Lyon counties have shared with us that flash flooding caught residents by surprise as water rose 6 inches per hour. Flood waters crested at more than 10 feet above flood stage. Many people had to be rescued by boat from their homes. And, early this week, it is estimated that 40% of the homes in Spencer have structural damage, leaving 113 families searching for housing and many people in local shelters.

At the state level, extension specialists have been meeting daily with the federal and state disaster and emergency management agencies. Our role in ISU Extension and Outreach is not only to support the emergency responders and local officials during the crisis, but to help communities in the preparation stage and in recovery.

Flood and disaster response is a top priority for our ISU Extension and Outreach leadership team and we are meeting weekly to identify the priorities our organization must address as we hear from our colleagues in the field.

For those in the heart of flooding response: continue to be in direct contact with your supervisors and program unit leaders about your needs. They will continue to be in direct contact with you to support you during the immediate crisis and to get you the support you need from ISU Extension and Outreach leadership and your colleagues across the state.

For those in areas that are anticipating flooding, many of you are already working with your local officials, partners, and extension customers to prepare. Program units and county services leaders will continue to send information and support materials in the days and weeks ahead. As you identify specific needs, please be in direct contact with your supervisors and any member of the leadership team.

For those who are not directly impacted by flood preparation and response, thank you to all of you who are actively working on the support materials and resources that need to be reviewed and updated for the current needs.

In addition to your work, I am forming a disaster response team with key representatives from each of the program units, county services, and operations who will prioritize and coordinate the support resources that are needed over the coming weeks as Iowa continues to experience the impacts of flooding.

Thank you for all you are doing to support our Iowa families, farmers, businesses, and communities.

I wish you a safe holiday weekend.

Jason Henderson