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Governor Branstad tours Johnson County, praises flood preparedness

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JOHNSON COUNTY (KWWL) -

Governor Terry Branstad spent Monday afternoon touring the state looking at flood damage and at how Johnson County has prepared for an ongoing threat of flooding. The governor was impressed with the proactive approach Johnson County took, especially on the University of Iowa campus.

There are miles of HESCO barriers, stacked two high, across the campus. The university went into its full interim flood protection mode last week, a plan that's costing the university $5 million.

"It's well worth it," said Sally Mason, University of Iowa President. "Remember we suffered more than $800 million worth of damage in 2008 and a repeat of that is just impossible to think about."

Right now all campus buildings are free of floodwater. It's this defensive action that Governor Branstad praised during Monday's visit to campus.

"I think Iowans take these responsibilities seriously and have done a great job of preparing and trying to mitigate as best we can but I don't think we're ever going to be totally prepared for disaster, said Branstad.

The governor made multiple stops through Johnson County before the flooding even hit its peak, although officials don't expect it will get much worse.

"The Coralville Reservoir is not going to go over the spillway," said Branstad. "That's very encouraging news. It did in '93. It did in 2008."

For the past week Johnson County has been preparing for flooding. The governor issued a disaster proclamation for the county last week, which allows state resources to be used in the recovery process.

The governor would like to see the legislature create a special fund just for disaster recovery.

"Every year there's going to be some emergencies," said Branstad.

The idea of a special reserve budget has also been floated around congress.

"These events are going to continue to happen," said Dave Loebsack, who serves in Iowa's second congressional district. "We're pretty sure about that so we've got to really make sure we're prepared at all levels of government to provide the kinds of resources that we need."

Throughout the past week as cities have been trying to come up with their flood plans, many leaders worried about the cost to defend their cities. Johnson County officials said to plan on asking for state and federal reimbursement. At the University of Iowa, officials will also be looking at ways to recoup those funds.

If President Obama declares a disaster proclamation for Iowa counties following this flooding, that will open up federal funds through the Public Assistance Program.

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