A top official with the Federal Emergency Management Agency says his agency will be a significant employer in Iowa for months and even years to come. FEMA’s coordinating officer for Iowa, Mike Parker, says there are currently 500 FEMA workers in the state – 350 in Urbandale and 150 in Cedar Rapids.

He believes those numbers will persist for a while. Parker says normally, with the expense of maintaining a staff that large, they would have closed down shop by now and moved operations to regional offices in Kansas City. But, because of the size and scope of the Iowa storms and floods, Parker says the employees will stay in the state for as much as two years longer.

In fact, FEMA will have 55 new job openings soon. "Those will be competed nationwide, so some people may compete (for the jobs) and come here from other places and some people from the state of Iowa may be hired for those positions," Parker said.

The FEMA staffers are currently handling as many as 10,000 separate recovery projects, mostly in the public sector. Nearly 500 Iowans are still living in FEMA trailers.