Iowa Gov. Chet Culver on June 27 announced the creation of a 15-member task force that will focus on rebuilding after this month’s record flooding.
Culver said the disaster is one of the 10 worst in the nation’s history and he has asked the group to complete a full assessment of flood damage within 45 days.
“We are beginning an effort that’s going to take years,” Culver said. “All agencies and state employees are going to be fully engaged in this process.”
The commission, which will be led by National Guard Adjutant General Ron Dardis, also will be asked to provide a long-term strategy for rebuilding by Nov. 1,2008
Culver said he also will create a new office in state government to focus solely on flood recovery.
Culver and Dardis spoke at a news conference attended by legislative leaders, and Dardis said he’s traveled the state heavily during the flooding.
“I saw first-hand the magnitude of the devastation,” Dardis said. “This clearly is a statewide disaster.”
Culver said he summoned state agency heads to his office and gave them seven days to reassess their budgets in light of the flooding. The agencies also were ordered to include flood recovery programs as part of their larger mission, Culver said.
“The scope of this disaster is massive,” he said.
Culver said damages could eventually soar to “tens of billions of dollars.”
Damages in the agriculture sector alone could reach $4 billion, he said.
“This is going to far exceed the 1993 flood,” Culver said.
He said 340 cities have been damaged by a month of weather disasters that started with a massive tornado that struck Parkersburg.
Culver said 1,500 miles of roads and 400 miles of rail lines also have been damaged, along with dozens of bridges.
The governor said he wanted the damage assessment done within 45 days to leave open the option of a special legislative session.
By creating the commission, recovery efforts can be better coordinated, Culver said.
The other 14 members of the special commission will be named in coming days, and the commission will be kept in place for years to monitor flood recovery progress, Culver said.
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