The state office created to coordinate recovery operations after the 2008 storms and flooding turned out its lights for the last time Thursday. The Rebuild Iowa Office (RIO) was created in June of 2008 through an executive order by then Governor Chet Culver, and later formalized by the state legislature.
RIO spokesperson, Susan Judkins, says their website will remain active for the next six months, and other operations may be used in the future. She says many of the programs that were established in the code will be available to flood victims this year if they get state or federal funding.
Ron Randazzo is another of the RIO employees who are overseeing the shut down. He says they originally started with 21 people, including the director who was retired Iowa National Guard General Ron Dardis. Randazzo says they staff dwindled to six on the final day as some returned to their original state jobs and most found new jobs in the private sector.
The final day was not an easy one for Randazzo and others. “For us that have worked here since the beginning, it’s pretty sad,” Randazzo said, “But we knew when we came on board that it was a three-year position. So it is not like we didn’t know this was coming.”
The legislature set the RIO office to shut down after three years when it was created. While it is sad, Randazzo says they realize they’ve helped a lot of people across the state. “We are very proud of that, and that’s the one thing we can kind of hold our heads up high about,” Randazzo says. He says everyone that worked at RIO was “hand picked” and the “office did incredible work” in the three years it was open.
RIO officials say the office helped secure more than $4.3-billion in total 2008 disaster recovery funding.