FEMA Again Denies Funds for Flooded University of Iowa Museum

May 8, 2013

The federal government has rejected the University of Iowa’s final request for funding to help it replace its flood-damaged Museum of Art.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency told the school in March that it was sticking by its rejection of the school’s request to help pay to replace the museum, which was badly damaged in the historic flood of 2008.

Without federal funding, the school must turn to private partners, the public or Iowa City officials for help, the school’s planning director, Rod Lehnertz, told the Iowa City Press-Citizen.

The school’s $1.7 billion comprehensive fundraising campaign will include money for the museum’s replacement, said UI Foundation spokeswoman Donna Larson.

“Work is underway now to determine how we’re going to move forward, and private giving will be a piece of that,” she said.

FEMA said the building doesn’t meet the agency’s threshold for replacement. Its 50 percent rule means damage to a building must not exceed 50 percent of the cost of replacing the facility, the newspaper reported.

“Essentially, the university has received a final response from FEMA indicating there will be no federal support for replacing the Museum of Art building,” UI spokesman Tom Moore said Friday.

Officials estimate damage to the museum’s lower level mechanical and electrical systems are about $4 million.

Lehnertz said the current building likely will be used for something different, since the $500 million art collection — which was evacuated before the flooding — can’t be insured there.

Moore said a site hasn’t been identified yet for a replacement building.

FEMA denied the school’s funding request for a full replacement in July 2010. It denied appeals in January 2011 and April 2012. The agency’s latest response was denial to fund a mitigation project.

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