Iowa Floods Test Mount Mercy’s Emergency Management Plan

This July, as flood waters wreaked havoc on Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Mount Mercy College had an opportunity to implement its own disaster preparedness plans, which included contingency plans for natural disasters like flooding and tornadoes.

During the past year, colleges and universities across the nation have been reworking their emergency management plans to ensure they are prepared to handle bomb threats and gun threats. Oftentimes, however, natural disasters affecting adjacent communities are not seen as a high priority in the planning process.

Although Mount Mercy was not directly affected by the flooding that occurred in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, this summer, the school’s administration enacted its emergency management plan to handle the crisis as well as the numerous volunteers and National Guard officers stationed there to assist with recovery efforts.

100 Campus Volunteers Assist Emergency Responders
While the city of Cedar Rapids was inundated with 31-foot flood waters, Mount Mercy’s administration knew it could not sit idly by. Fortunately, the school had an emergency management plan that enabled the campus to be an invaluable resource to the surrounding community during its time of need.

The college’s administrators took steps in accordance with this plan. An emergency was declared, which allowed the institutional emergency management team (EMT) to be activated. The EMT, led by Vice President of Finance and Business Operations Barbara Parks Pooley, determined how the college could help flooding victims in the city and what that help would entail.

The team quickly realized that opening college facilities for flood response and relief efforts would be helpful for first responders. Mount Mercy would ultimately open its doors to more than 600 Air and Army National Guard members, law enforcement officers and Red Cross volunteers who were deployed to the area for recovery and relief efforts.

For 11 days the Mount Mercy campus was closed to the public, although approximately 100 Mount Mercy staff, faculty and students volunteered 3,600 hours to provide myriad support services — both visible and behind the scenes — to ensure these groups were able to perform their duties without interruption or distraction. Mount Mercy volunteers were scheduled in shifts on campus 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to offer technical and logistical support, including communications, laundry and sanitary services, food delivery, switchboard duties and supply facilitation.

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