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State of Iowa announces new suspicious activity reporting campaign

Say Something IOWA website is launched


woman peeking out through blindsFEB. 19, 2018 - Gov. Kim Reynolds and Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg today announced the launch of a campaign to educate Iowans on the importance of reporting suspicious activity.


The Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and the Iowa Department of Public Safety are partnering with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to promote the "If You See Something, Say Something®," campaign, which was created to educate the public on the importance of reporting suspicious behavior that could indicate terrorism or terrorism-related crime. The private sector, through the Safeguard Iowa Partnership, and local law enforcement, through the Iowa State Sheriffs and Deputies Association and the Iowa Police Chiefs Association, are also partners in this effort.


"There are things that we all can do to increase the safety of our communities, state, and nation," Gov. Reynolds said. "We are asking all Iowans to pay attention to their surroundings, and if they see something that looks suspicious, to report it to local law enforcement or call 911."


With the recent school shootings in Florida and other locations in the United States, the governor asked parents, students, school faculty and staff, and members of the community to be especially vigilant for signs of potential violence and to report it to school officials or law enforcement.


The "If You See Something, Say Something®" public awareness campaign will include radio public service announcements through 2018, along with sharing and reinforcing the suspicious activity reporting message with the assistance of private business and local law enforcement agencies, and through social media platforms. As part of this campaign, the Iowa Department of Education will work with campaign partners to expand its efforts to spread the message on the importance of reporting suspicious activity. The State of Iowa has partnered with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for past campaigns that included "If You See Something, Say Something®," posters at the Iowa State Fair, statewide broadcast of radio public service announcements, billboards, bus signs, and community outreach through law enforcement.


"As we go about our days, going to work, school, shopping, traveling, if we see something out of the ordinary, something that shouldn't be there, or that someone’s behavior doesn't seem right and causes suspicion, we should contact our local law enforcement agency or call 911," Lt. Gov. Gregg said.


For more information on Iowa's "If You See Something, Say Something®," campaign, visit



Image of headphones

HSEMD spokesperson John Benson discusses the need for the public to report suspicious behavior (.mp3, 1 min)



What is suspicious behavior?

Suspicious activity is any observed behavior that could indicate terrorism or terrorism-related crime. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Unusual items or situations: A vehicle is parked in an odd location, a package/luggage is unattended, a window/door is open that is usually closed, or other out-of-the-ordinary situations occur.
  • Eliciting information: A person questions individuals at a level beyond curiosity about a building’s purpose, operations, security procedures and/or personnel, shift changes, etc.
  • Observation/surveillance: Someone pays unusual attention to facilities or buildings beyond a casual or professional interest. This includes extended loitering without explanation (particularly in concealed locations); unusual, repeated, and/or prolonged observation of a building (e.g., with binoculars or video camera); taking notes or measurements; counting paces; sketching floor plans, etc.

Some of these activities could be innocent, but it's up to law enforcement to determine whether the behavior warrants investigation. The activities above are not all-inclusive, but have been compiled based on studies of pre-operational aspects of both successful and thwarted terrorist events over several years.

Additional contact information

Report immigration-related suspicious behavior to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) by calling 1-866-347-2423.



Read about the State deploying staff to assist in hurricane response & recovery


State deploying employees to assist with hurricane response, recovery efforts


Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management senior recovery staff members Dennis Harper and Pat Hall before their deployment as FEMA assets in Puerto Rico. Photo taken Oct. 6, 2017.OCT 9, 2017 - State of Iowa employees continue to deploy to assist with hurricane response and recovery efforts. The Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEMD) is sending three employees to assist the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The agency's resources have been stretched thin following a record-setting hurricane season and wildfires burning in more than a dozen states.(Above: HSEMD's Dennis Harper and Pat Hall get ready to deploy as FEMA assets in Puerto Rico. Photo taken Oct. 6, 2017.)

Senior operations administrator Joyce Flinn will deploy on Tuesday, October 10, 2017, for a second two-week tour at FEMA's National Response Coordination Center (NRCC) in Washington, D.C. There, she will serve as liaison for the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC).

Officials in areas impacted by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria are utilizing EMAC, a nationwide mutual aid compact. Through EMAC, impacted states can request assistance from experienced emergency management personnel and others who have the needed skills to aid response and recovery efforts.

Flinn's primary mission is to ensure requested resources are delivered as quickly as possible, while also enforcing EMAC's policies and procedures and coordinating with FEMA's response activities. In late September, Flinn and senior response staff member Frank Klier completed the same mission on a two-week deployment to the NRCC.


Dennis Harper and Pat Hall get ready to board the USTS Empire State VI that will take them to the Joint Field Office in Puerto Rico. Photo taken Oct. 8, 2017.Senior disaster recovery staff members Pat Hall and Dennis Harper deployed to Puerto Rico on Friday, October 6, 2017. Their deployment is expected to last 30 days. Hall and Harper have each been with HSEMD for more than 20 years and have led recovery efforts in Iowa during more than 30 presidential major disaster declarations.

HSEMD also provided virtual assistance to the U.S. Virgin Islands from Sept. 6-24, 2017, by coordinating its requests for assistance through EMAC.

EMAC is administered by the National Emergency Management Association and facilitates the sharing of resources among its 54 member states and U.S. territories when they are impacted by catastrophic disaster events. HSEMD and employees of other Iowa state agencies have provided assistance through EMAC for several disasters, including sending staff to New Jersey following Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and to Texas following Hurricane Ike in 2008. (Above: Dennis Harper and Pat Hall get ready to board the USTS Empire State VI that will take them to the Joint Field Office in Puerto Rico. Photo taken Oct. 8, 2017.)

You can learn more about EMAC by visiting the EMAC website at



Read about how to help the victims of 2017 hurricanes...


Helping the victims of 2017 hurricanes


In the aftermath of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Marie, you may ask what is being done to help those affected by disaster in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands - or what you can do to help.



Members of New York Task Force 1 and Virginia Task Force 1 conduct search-and-rescue operations on St. Thomas and St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Photo by FEMA, Sept. 12, 2017.The simple answer is, unless you or your organization are asked to respond, the best way to help is through a cash donation to a reputable relief organization. It is important to also stress not to send donations of goods (clothing, bedding, hygiene items, food, water, etc.). One thing those affected by the disaster don't need is the logistical nightmare that is created when a surge of unsolicited donations pour into their communities and overwhelm those tasked with recovery. This phenomenon is often referred to as the "second disaster." (Above: Members of New York Task Force 1 and Virginia Task Force 1 conduct search-and-rescue operations on St. Thomas and St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Photo by FEMA, Sept. 12, 2017.)



Many voluntary agencies are engaged in the response efforts. Those agencies have defined recruitment and training processes they must follow to ensure skilled personnel are assisting. While many trained personnel have deployed to disaster areas from Iowa, we encourage you to investigate volunteer opportunities here in Iowa, either through the Iowa Disaster Human Resource Council, or via the Volunteer Iowa website.


DO NOT "self-deploy" to affected areas. In catastrophic disasters, those areas hit hard by recent storms are still dealing with numerous life-saving issues. People "showing up to help" only adds to the chaos. Please let the established processes work. Response and recovery efforts will be ongoing for a very long time.


Government Assistance

Any requests for assistance with public health, law enforcement, National Guard, human services resources, etc., will come through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC). EMAC is comprised of emergency management agencies all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Washington, D.C.


HSEMD's Joyce Flinn and Frank Klier work EMAC missions from FEMA's National Response Coordination Center in Washington, D.C. The two are working on getting supplies and personnel to the U.S. Virgin Islands.


Through EMAC, officials in those areas hit by recent storms determine the resources needed and send out a broadcast which is received by the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEMD). HSEMD then forwards the request to the appropriate state agency partner to see if they can support the request. (Above: Sept. 19, 2017, HSEMD's Joyce Flinn and Frank Klier work to get supplies and personnel to the U.S. Virgin Islands through EMAC from FEMA's National Response Coordination Center in Washington, D.C.)


If local resource support is needed, the state agency would then reach out to local agencies and ask their availability to meet the need. The compact guarantees reimbursement and liability protections during deployment.



President Trump issues disaster declaration for Iowa


On Sept. 25, 2017, Dubuque and Winneshiek counties were added to this declaration, bringing the total number of counties covered under DR-4334 to nine.

President Trump issues Disaster Declaration for Iowa counties impacted by July flooding and severe weather


AUGUST 27, 2017 - Today, Gov. Kim Reynolds received word that President Donald Trump approved her request for a Presidential Disaster Declaration for seven counties impacted by flooding and severe weather July 19-23, 2017.


The counties included in the declaration are: Allamakee, Bremer, Buchanan, Chickasaw, Clayton, Fayette and Mitchell.


Map of counties included in Disaster 4334
The declaration will provide federal funding to the included counties under the Public Assistance Program. A Presidential Major Disaster Declaration for Public Assistance puts into motion long-term federal recovery programs, some of which are partially matched by state programs, and designed to help public entities and select non-profits. Public Assistance funds may be used for emergency work and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities and may include debris removal, emergency protective measures, repair of damaged public property, loans needed by communities for essential government functions and grants for public schools. Damage assessments in the seven declared counties showed an estimated $7 million worth of damage that could be eligible under the Public Assistance Program.


The governor also received notification that the Presidential Disaster Declaration includes funding to conduct hazard mitigation activities for the entire state. With this funding, Iowa will be able to minimize the impact of future disasters by taking steps to reduce or eliminate long-term risk to people and property from natural hazards.‚ÄčClick here to read the Notice of Funds Availability (PDF).


The governor requested the declaration on Aug. 10, 2017. Click here to read the letter in its entirety.



Iowa Watershed Approach launches new website


Iowa Watershed Approach launches program website


JUNE 30, 2017 - The Iowa Watershed Approach officially launched its program website today at


Iowa Watershed Approach logoThe website will serve as a landing page for the entire Iowa Watershed Approach (IWA) project, with basic information about the IWA, important documents, and links to all program partners and key stakeholders.


The IWA was created in 2016 when the State was awarded a $96.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as part of the National Disaster Resilience Competition. The grant allows program partners to assist Iowa communities in their recovery from prior disasters as well as their ability to recover more quickly from future disasters.


Nine distinct watersheds across Iowa serve as project sites for the IWA: Bee Branch Creek in Dubuque, Upper Iowa River, Upper Wapsipinicon River, Middle Cedar River, Clear Creek, English River, North Raccoon River, West Nishnabotna River, and East Nishnabotna River.


The site, managed by the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, will highlight progress made toward the six goals identified in the award. They include reducing flood risk, improving water quality, increasing resilience, engaging stakeholders, improving quality of life and health, and developing a program that can be replicated throughout the Midwest and the nation.


The IWA Program is a collaboration of numerous agencies, universities, non-profits, and municipalities. Partners include: Iowa Economic Development Authority, Iowa Homeland Security & Emergency Management, University of Iowa/Iowa Flood Center, Iowa State University, University of Northern Iowa, Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Natural Resources Conservation Service, County Soil & Water Conservation Districts, The Nature Conservancy, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Farm Bureau, Iowa Agricultural Water Alliance, local Resource Conservation & Development offices, local Council of Governments offices, Iowa Department of Transportation, Iowa Association of Counties, Silver Jackets Flood Risk Management Team, and many more.



Text-to-911 logo: Call if you can, text if you can't








Application period opens for FEMA Hazard Mitigation Assistance grant programs


JULY 12, 2017 - FEMA has announced the Unified Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) grant program for FY 2017, which includes the Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) and Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) programs. These HMA grant programs will provide funds to states, territories, Indian tribal governments, and communities for hazard mitigation planning and mitigation projects prior to a disaster event. Funding amounts are based on Congressional appropriation. Click here to read more about these funding opportunities.