August 2, 2012
Lawmakers Applaud FEMA Response on Flood Recovery for U of I
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack (D-IA) and Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) today applauded Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate for backing the University of Iowa’s recovery efforts and the replacement of flood-damaged University of Iowa buildings. Earlier this year, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) had recommended that University of Iowa buildings be rebuilt, not replaced as FEMA had committed to doing in the aftermath of the floods. Last month, Loebsack, Grassley and Harkin met with Administrator Fugate to take this position and urged him to quickly respond to the OIG recommendation to ensure funding is not cut off for the University of Iowa and the surrounding community.
In response to Fugate’s decision, the lawmakers today urged DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and Under Secretary Rafael Borras to support FEMA’s decision to replace the University of Iowa’s Hancher-Voxman-Clapp (HVC) and Art Building East (ABE) facilities. The result of the original recommendation by the OIG Report would have been to take back funds already approved for HVC and ABE replacement. They are now calling for a meeting with the Secretary and Under Secretary of DHS to further discuss the Iowa Delegation’s position.
“We strongly agree with the Administrator that the University of Iowa should not be caught in the middle of an internal dispute over interpretation of FEMA policy,” the lawmakers wrote. “The University of Iowa has already expended over $20 million towards the construction of new facilities since these funds were awarded nearly three years ago. Additionally, deobligating funds doom these severely dilapidated facilities to be rebuilt in a floodplain. The University, its students, and the community are an innocent party with no role in writing or interpreting FEMA policy, and substantively replacing the buildings is the correct policy.”
“We hope to meet with you in the future to discuss this important matter and look forward to further highlighting the need to ensure the University of Iowa and the Eastern Iowa economy is not harmed as a result of an internal government dispute,” the lawmakers concluded.
A copy of the letter can be found here.