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Greater Iowa Red Cross Hosts First Ever Iowa Resiliency Summit

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“It’s not the likelihood that the disaster will occur, but the consequence if it does occur” - J.D. Polk

The Greater Iowa Red Cross hosted its first ever resiliency summit Wednesday, June 29, which was dedicated to making Iowa a more prepared and resilient state in the midst of disaster.

The Iowa Resiliency Summit was a day devoted to acknowledging and building relationships at the local community and individual level. Several representatives from community organizations across Iowa attended to share why working together makes Iowans more prepared for and able to recover from disasters.

Iowa is more resilient because “Iowans truly, genuinely help and truly, genuinely mean it,” said John Halbrook of Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management. He described what resiliency meant and why the organizations present should care.

Also at the summit, Dan Wood, of the State Fire Marshal’s Office, described the most common factors that cause home fires. The videos he presented moved the audience as they watched how quickly fires can start and spread through homes.

The Red Cross recognizes the effects home fire deaths have on communities, so in the past few years, it’s been working on the Home Fire Campaign—a way to try to prevent these deaths from occurring.

Kevin Kelley, the senior director of community preparedness and resilience operations for the Red Cross in Washington D.C., elaborated on the success the Red Cross in the Iowa Region has had in the past few years with the Home Fire Campaign.

The campaign was designed in 2012 after a devastating fire in Lake City. Since then, roughly 5,000 smoke alarms have been installed in homes across the state.

“Success around this campaign can lead to addressing other community disasters,” Kelley said.

The event’s keynote speaker, Dr. J.D. Polk, is a new member to the Greater Iowa Red Cross board. Polk, dean of Des Moines University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine, provided facts behind the importance of resiliency.

“It’s not the likelihood that the disaster will occur, but the consequence if it does occur,” Polk said.

Among the organizations present, others who contributed to the presentations were Iowa Habitat for Humanity, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps. Each contributed its own information as to why relationships sustain resiliency in Iowa.