Iowa leaders urge Cedar Rapids Library funding - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa leaders urge Cedar Rapids Library funding

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- Members of Iowa's congressional delegation are urging the Federal Emergency Management Agency to reconsider it's decision that denied the City of Cedar Rapids funds to help temporarily relocate its main library.

Iowa Sens. Tom Harkin, a Democrat, and Chuck Grassley, a Republican, as well as 2nd District Rep. Dave Loebsack, a Democrat, sent a letter Tuesday to Nancy Ward, FEMA acting director. In it, they request "due consideration" to an appeal filed by the city.

According to a news release from Harkin's office, FEMA recently decided that the main library was not an "essential service."

During flooding last summer, the first floor of the downtown Cedar Rapids library was submerged and more than 167,000 items were destroyed.

The release says estimates show it will take about 18 months to repair the damage.

A copy of the letter is below.

March 17, 2009

Nancy Ward, Acting Director
Federal Emergency Management Agency
500 C Street SW
Washington, DC 20472

Dear Ms. Ward:

The City of Cedar Rapids is appealing a decision by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to deny the City's request for temporary relocation assistance for its Main Library.  We ask that you give this appeal all due consideration. 

The Midwest Flood is one of the largest disasters in FEMA's history and for the first time, a main library has been impacted.  Over 167,000 items within the library were destroyed when the first floor of the library was submerged by flood waters.  It is anticipated that it will take a minimum of 18 months for repairs to be completed to the facility. 

We disagree with FEMA's decision that the library is not a critical service and ask that you review all applicable regulations, in particular the April 2007 revision of the Stafford Act.  Section 403 provides for the "provision of temporary facilities for schools and other essential community services." 

We believe that the Main Library does provide essential services to the community.  In fact, the library is a critical part of local educational services, serving not only educators and students in Cedar Rapids, but throughout Linn County.  It has an extensive reference database that is relied upon by area school districts to supplement their own resources.  The Main Library has been available to students in the evenings and on weekends when access to school libraries is not available.  In addition, schools have regularly scheduled class reference orientations at the library.  Area students utilized the extensive references and educational materials to complete assignments, like annual science projects, which some area schools lack the specialized resources to support.

The Main Library is a key partner to local education, and because of its essential role in the community we believe it is eligible for temporary relocation assistance.  Thank you for your consideration of this request.

Sincerely,

Senator Tom Harkin
Senator Chuck Grassley
Representative Dave Loebsack

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