The Rebuild Iowa Commission is discussing creating statewide standards for local emergency management agencies as it prepares its next set of recommendations. Parkersburg commission member Amy Truax says it may be time for the state to set some sort of standard.
"There’s a lot of local control over emergency management, however there’s not necessarily a blueprint across the state as to how that needs to be mandated or what the recommendation is for emergency management,"Truax says, "So I think there needs to be some consideration at the state for taking more of a leadership role and saying this is how emergency management needs to work."
Truax says many local governments would object to a state mandate because of the cost, as many smaller communities are understaffed when it come to emergencies. Truax says for example, Butler County has a half-time emergency management coordinator who’s been stretched thin since tornadoes and flooding struck in June.
Truax says: "Disasters don’t discriminate as to what your population is and where you live. And the thing is you can’t predict a disaster either, but you still have to be prepared and still have to have the manpower to be able to do that, and with all the planning and as well as now were into mitigation and have the ability to do that and do that effectively."
State emergency management director, David Miller, says he agrees the state needs to play a role, but says many local governments would object to hiring or training mandates from the state. Miller says in his estimation, it’s not fair to make it a completely local decision as the state and the nation have an interest. "The truth is the federal government through it’s grants has found ways to invest in that capability at the state and local level. The state needs to look at the same kind of things, what’s the proper level of investment, how do we enhance what’s happening locally, it effects what happens in the state, we have an interest," Miller says.
Miller says Butler County benefited from a state-trained incident management team that arrived after the tornadoes to provide assistance to local officials. The commission began meeting Thursday and wraps things up today. It will issue its second report to the governor by November 17th.