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Iowans Assist Colorado in disaster recovery efforts

DES MOINES – Three employees of the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEMD) are assisting the State of Colorado in its recovery from severe storms, flooding, landslides and mudslides that impacted portions of that state last September.

Through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) the State of Colorado recently requested staff to help state and local governments, and some nonprofit organizations, as they work to repair damaged infrastructure through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Public Assistance Program. HSEMD answered Colorado’s request for help and sent three of its staff who have expertise in the Public Assistance Program.

Jill Smith, Jordan Moser and Bob Lagneaux, who all are members of the HSEMD Recovery Division’s Public Assistance Bureau, arrived in Colorado in early January. They have performed a variety of duties during this assignment, including: oversight of and guidance for applicants on required, and sometimes complex, paperwork for projects; providing training on the Public Assistance Program to staff of the Colorado Office of Emergency Management; and helping guide impacted entities through the rebuilding process. Moser and Lagneaux will continue their work in Colorado through early March, while Smith will return to Iowa for a short time before going back to Colorado for another one-month deployment.

“The many disasters we have had in the state of Iowa have resulted in a core cadre of HSEMD staff with a great deal of knowledge in disaster recovery,” said Recovery Division Administrator Pat Hall. “We’re pleased that we can share this knowledge to help other states.”

In addition, Joyce Flinn, HSEMD’s Operations Division administrator, has served as chair of EMAC’s Executive Task Force (ETF) since March of 2013. As the ETF chair, Flinn oversees work on national policies that impact EMAC member states. Along with Flinn’s one-year service as the chair of the ETF, Iowa is serving as the national coordinating state for EMAC for one year. As the national coordinating state, HSEMD serves as the initial point of contact for and oversees coordination of EMAC operational activities for disaster response and recovery. Flinn and HSEMD will serve in these roles until March of 2014.

“As my term as EMAC ETF chair draws to an end, I'm honored to have had the opportunity to serve in this important role,” Flinn said. “Whether sharing best practices or providing critical resources during disaster response and recovery, EMAC provides the mechanism to truly engage and help other states.”

EMAC is administered by the National Emergency Management Association and facilitates the effective and efficient sharing of resources among member states when they are impacted by catastrophic disaster events. All 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands are members of EMAC. Iowa has been a member of EMAC since 1997. HSEMD and employees of other Iowa state agencies have provided assistance through EMAC for several disasters, including sending staff to New Jersey following Hurricane Sandy, Texas in response to Hurricane Ike, and North Dakota following record flooding in 2009.

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The Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management leads, coordinates and supports homeland security and emergency management functions in order to establish sustainable communities and ensure economic opportunities for Iowa and its citizens.