A University of Iowa appeal for federal dollars to help fund $30 million in flood mitigation to underground campus utility tunnels has been denied.
UI officials had appealed the decision of the Federal Emergency Management Agency regarding the tunnel mitigation funding, and that appeal was recently denied by FEMA’s regional office in Kansas City, university leaders told the state Board of Regents during a meeting Thursday.
The appeal rejection from the regional office came back a few weeks ago. The UI has a 60-day window to appeal that to FEMA headquarters in Washington, D.C., but UI officials think it’s unlikely they will appeal it to that level. The project is too expensive for the university to fund on its own, so officials will look at other ways to protect the tunnels in the event of future flooding.
“We’re thinking of just moving on,” said Doug True, UI senior vice president for finance and operations. “More than likely we’ll fix what we have and do the things we can to protect it.”
The $30 million would have been for mitigation against future flooding in the underground tunnels, not for repair of the tunnels, True said. FEMA has more discretion in deciding funding for mitigation work than it does for building repair work, which has more set rules and standards, he said, so the university has less leverage in mitigation appeals.