A presidentially appointed task force plans to issue recommendations this spring to improve the way states receive disaster aid. Any changes could affect how Iowa’s disaster-stricken towns and cities rebuild. Bret Voorhees, spokesperson for Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management, says the way federal funds come to the state should change.
“We need to more closely coordinate different federal programs,” Voorhees said. ” For example, Housing and Urban Development has the Community Development Block Grant money and we need to merge that and blend that with Hazard Mitigation funds which come from FEMA through our agency.” The task force held the first of five forums this week in New Orleans where members are gathering input from state and local leaders in disaster-affected communities.
“There (are) a number of different federal agencies with different programs, so it’s important for them to sit down and communicate with local and state people to make the system much easier to run,” Voorhees said. The federal effort involves the head of nearly every major federal agency and is spearheaded by the Secretaries of Homeland Security and Housing and Urban Development.
The group is focusing on long-term recovery and how to improve cooperation among agencies. Although the taskforce does not plan to meet in Iowa, Voorhees says he’s certain the state will contribute to the discussion.