Officials believe derecho report can help improve disaster response, in time

Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 9:57 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Cedar Rapids City Council members plan to make changes to better respond to disasters, like a derecho, but said it could take some time for those changes to be implemented.

Cedar Rapids spent around $25,000 to create an after-action review on the city’s response to the derecho. The report comes after our KCRG-TV9 i9 Investigative Team found officials confused on how to request resources, like the national guard. The city did admit there were gaps in the response, which also included nonprofits not being aware of the situation on the ground. Linn County Emergency Management Agency also did decline and ignore relief efforts when the storm hit.

Councilmember Scott Overland said he read the report. He said he expects it to act as a blueprint to better respond to disasters, similar to after the 08 Flood.

“Just after the ‘08 floods, we didn’t plan for that. But, we have now planned for it, and 2016 is evidence of that,” Overland said. “And I think as a result of the derecho in 2020, the same thing will come out of it.”

City councilmember Dale Todd said it could take some time for the city to implement recommendations inside the report. He said the city is still aiding recovery efforts.

”We are trying to get through this recovery in a thoughtful way that is sensitive to the state some people are still in,” Todd said.

City councilmember Ann Poe said there’s a lot to digest and implement in the report in an emailed statement. She said the study provides an opportunity to improve public safety in Cedar Rapids.

“As you know and we have seen, every disaster is different in its complexity to respond,” Poe wrote. “So we are constantly looking for opportunities to make our City and our community safer and more prepared and that is what this independent study provides.”

She also said some new initiatives are already underway, like the Neighborhood PACT program. It asks people to have enough supplies for three days, sign up for text alerts and for people to consider getting trained to volunteer for nonprofits.

Cedar Rapids Mayor Brad Hart said the city and council are committed to strengthening their ability to respond to disasters. He also each recommendation will be reviewed and quickly adopted when appropriate.

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