Iowa is subject to natural disasters from across the spectrum. These may range from flooding and drought, to snow storms, tornadoes and lightning storms. In 1993 torrential downpours flooded the Mississippi and Missouri rivers leading to the evacuation of 74,000 residents and the deaths of 47 people. The water purification plant was immersed in water and, for 19 days, almost 350,000 people lacked potable water.
In 2008, Iowa experienced a historic number of natural disasters including flooding and tornadoes. Almost 18 people were killed due to these events, and Governor Culver estimated the damage to be in the billions of dollars. More than 40,000 people were displaced due to floods and 3,000 homes were destroyed.
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The steady stream of natural disasters through the state has contributed to speculation that weather in the Midwest is undergoing a major shift. Noted climatic scientists like Richard Doak claim that the flooding and tornadoes are a result of climatic changes that will make natural disasters regular occurrences in the state.
Training and Requirements for Emergency Management Jobs in Iowa
Many of the emergency management careers in Iowa are found within public agencies. IHSEM recently sponsored an opening for an Administrator in their Planning Division with the following minimum requirements:
- Graduation from an accredited post-secondary educational institution with significant course work in homeland security or emergency management studies
- At least one year of experience in homeland security or emergency management operations
- Ability to work continuously through a crisis
- Willingness to travel throughout and outside the state
- Ability to obtain security clearance from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security within six months of hiring
- Ability to operate common office equipment
- Ability to effectively communicate with others in writing and verbally
Emergency management professionals in Iowa may receive certifications denoting proficiency in the general field or within specialized areas through some key organizations.
- Iowa Emergency Management Association requires
- High school diploma
- At least two years of experience as Emergency Management Coordinator; or
- At least five years of experience in emergency services
- Responsible for the preparation of Hazardous Materials Emergency Plan or Emergency Operations Plan in the past three years
- Design of an exercise for training emergency personnel
- Recertification within three years
- Emergency Management Institute offers courses in
- Emergency planning
- Decision making and problem solving
- Leadership and influence
Iowa’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Organization
In the aftermath of these tragic events, the state’s primary response organization, Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management (IHSEM) has implemented a series of programs. The IHSEM established the Iowa Flood Mitigation Board to help design and implement programs which would prevent and minimize crises resulting from floods. IHSEM also works closely with county agencies to develop emergency services, establish dedicated lines of communication and coordinated response strategies. State and local personnel regularly conduct integrated training exercises for responses to natural and terrorist incidents like biological, chemical or nuclear attacks.