If Oklahoma officials need emergency aid from other states, the first place they’ll call is Iowa.
Iowa is the national coordinating state for the emergency management assistance compact, said Lucinda Robertson, a spokeswoman for the Iowa Department of Homeland Security.
“Any request is going to come through us,” Robertson told The Des Moines Register this morning. “I don’t believe anything has come in because it’s so early in the response.”
Late Monday night, Oklahoma officials asked Texas to dispatch some of its disaster mortuary teams to help identify bodies and causes of death. They notified Iowa "to make sure we were in the loop," said Joyce Flinn, readiness and response bureau chief for the Iowa Department of Homeland Security.
A menacing tornado raked through the city of Moore, a suburb of Oklahoma City, Monday afternoon, wiping flat dozens of homes and crumpling businesses and public buildings along a 20-mile path. The revised death count is 24, officials said this morning.
The tornado has been tentatively classified an EF4, the second highest strength level, according to National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center officials in Oklahoma. Oklahoma officials have requested people wanting to help send monetary donations - and not send clothing or show up at the scene.
Iowa became a member of the emergency compact in 1997 and has since deployed health workers, medical examiners, food stamp workers, disaster recovery workers, pet crates and other resources to help other states.
In summer 2005, Iowa sent emergency aid workers to Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina, to Texas after Hurricane Ike in fall 2008, to North Dakota after flooding there in spring 2009, and to New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy last year.
And nearly five years ago, when an EF5 tornado slammed into Parkersburg on May 25, 2008, Iowa received assistance through the emergency compact.
Iowa's stint as national coordinator for the emergency compact will last for one year - from March 2013 to March 2014, Flinn said.