This decade saw Iowa and the nation focus on a number of safety and security issues. Not long after we caught our breath from the run-up and non-issue of Y-2-K, terrorism took center stage. State Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division administrator, David Miller, says Iowa had a little head start on thinking about terrorism
Miller says the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City got Iowa involved in the terrorism issue as Ellen Gordon, who held Miller’s job at that time, got involved with the commission reviewing the impact of the bombing. He says 9-11 threw them another curveball as they now faced the foreign threat of terrorism.
States were given money to help improve their security, and then Miller says another event caused change. Miller says the focus remained on terrorism in the time immediately after 9-11 and ways to combat that, then Hurricane Katrina hit and added another problem to the mix. Miller says the thinking then was maybe the country had focused too much on terrorism, and more was done to prepare for natural disasters. He says one of the things they continue to work on is getting officials at all levels to communicate with each other.
Miller says that was a shortfall pointed out in the 9-11 report and he says they have been discussing that since then. He says they discovered it’s not just a shortfall in communicating between governments, but also how they communicate with the public and private enterprise.
Miller says they’ve worked to include private businesses and the public in the discussions as they look to meet the threats that are out there. While technology has come a long way and there are now cellphones and devices for getting instant information — Miller says there can still be problems in communication if the proper information isn’t getting out.