Disaster Recovery

Disaster Recovery Logo

During Spring and Summer 2008, severe weather across Iowa caused substantial damage to Iowa's historic resources. Since then, Preservation Iowa has been working with the State Historical Society of Iowa, Main Street Iowa, 1000 Friends of Iowa, the Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation to identify needs and assist historic property owners in all affected areas of the state.

As millions of Federal dollars flow into the state for disaster recovery, we have been part of consultation on Federal projects. Learn more about FEMA's efforts to survey flood-affected communities below. As a consulting party to both FEMA and HUD, we will continue to be a voice for saving and reutilizing as many of our irreplaceable historic resources as possible during the rebuilding process.

For specific information on our disaster recovery efforts in Cedar Rapids, go to our Cedar Rapids Recovery page. In addition, Preservation Iowa enlisted the assistance of Zak Hingst to assess the recovery of Cedar Rapids Sacred Places. His assessment is detailed on our Sacred Places initiative page.

Waverly Maple One team

Waverly Architectural Salvage Success

Preservation Iowa recently wrapped up an architectural salvage project in the City of Waverly, successfully salvaging 23 flood-damaged homes for architectural materials now on their way to being reused in the region. Thanks to the outstanding efforts of the AmeriCorps NCCC-Maple One team and the Waverly HPC, the pre-demolition salvage and recycling of architectural materials was an outstanding success by all measurements.

Salvaged Material

  • 1,333 floorboards
  • 135 doors
  • 123 light fixtures
  • 80 windows

Estimated Volunteer Hours

  • INRCOG – 10
  • City of Waverly – 25
  • Preservation Iowa – 62
  • Waverly HPC – 343
  • Maple One team – 1,809

Download the full Waverly Project Report (PDF icon 0.49 MB)

Consultation on Federal Undertakings

Both FEMA and HUD invited Preservation Iowa to be a consulting party on federal undertakings related to 2008 disaster recovery. This consultation is required under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. The process of how consultation begins is described in this process document (PDF icon 48.6 KB), provided by FEMA. A FEMA Press Release globe icon from February 1, 2010, describes how the process begins to consider compensation for the loss of historic properties. This compensation is outlined in a Memorandum of Agreement (or "MOA"). The process for developing an MOA is outlined in this paper (PDF icon 97.57 KB), provided by FEMA.

As part of consultation, we obtained copies of architectural survey reports produced by Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management and by The Louis Berger Group. These reports, linked below, identify historic properties and historic districts within the neighborhoods and communities being considered as part of the FEMA and HUD buyout process. Many of reports are quite large, so in some cases the photos have been split into a separate document.

Disaster Resources

FEMA NFIP Bulletin for Historic Structures: FEMA Library globe icon

NTHP Economic Incentives for the Repair and Rehabilitation of Historic Buildings in Iowa: Resource Sheet (PDF icon 104.76 KB)

NTHP Repair or Demolish?: Pamphlet (PDF icon 560.99 KB)

NTHP Saving Your Flood Damaged Older and Historic Buildings:
NTHP Tip Sheet (PDF icon 64.31 KB)
Press Release (PDF icon 182.85 KB)

IHPA Damage Assessment Tips for Historic Properties: IHPA Tip Sheet (PDF icon 187.04 KB)

IHPA Damage Assessment Tips for Storm-damaged Historic Cemeteries: IHPA Tip Sheet (PDF icon 194.14 KB)

More resources are available on the National Trust for Historic Preservation's flood recovery page globe icon.

Disaster Resources and Downloads

Preservaion Iowa has collected a number of downloadable resources to help those recovering from natural disasters. They are available in the download box to the right and described below.

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is an important tool for cities and homeowners trying to recover properties in floodplains, but it can be confusing to some. Historic properties are given special consideration in the program. In May 2008, FEMA released a floodplain management bulletin that defines "historic structure" and explains how those structures are given some relief from NFIP requirements. The bulletin also provides guidance on how to minimize flood damage to historic structures.

In response to the 2008 disaster, the National Trust for Historic Preservation prepared a resource sheet on economic incentives available for Iowa's historic commercial and residential properties. Their "Repair or Demolish?" pamphlet outlines a few of the questions owners of flood-damaged homes should ask themselves before making a decision regarding their property's ultimate fate. Many older homes damaged in the Gulf Coast after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, in Grand Forks after the 1997 Red River flood, and in Iowa after the Floods of 1993 were brought back from possible demolition; the same can happen today.

Preservation Iowa, in coordination with the National Trust, prepared a one-page tip sheet for owners of older and historic buildings impacted by flooding. The tip sheet contains lessons learned following the Gulf Coast flooding of 2005. Many historic building materials can be needlessly lost in the haste to clean up a flood-damaged property. Some of these elements—like elaborate wood trim—are costly to duplicate, and in many cases can be slowly dried out, refinished and reinstalled into the rehabilitated structure. The tip sheet is a summary of a free publication “Treatment of Flood-Damaged Older and Historic Buildings” available from National Trust Preservation Books online at www.preservationnation.org globe icon. Additional tip sheets for assessing damage to historic properties were prepared by Preservation Iowa in response to the 2008 disasters.