The Gazette covers City Hall, now a flood-damaged icon on May's Island in the Cedar River

Day 1 for Eyerly as flood-recovery director; he’s looking ahead, not back; setting goals; wants to work himself out of a job in a year or two

In Floods, Greg Eyerly on July 13, 2009 at 4:43 pm

Greg Eyerly never seemed to fuss too much with the suit and tie the last 16 or so months when he was working on the front lines as the city’s utilities operations manager with an office at the Water Pollution Control facility.

Monday, his first full day as the city’s new flood-recovery director, had him dressed every bit the part of executive. His shirt couldn’t have been whiter, his tie nicer, the shine on the shoes shinier.

Eyerly is operating out of what had been a mini-conference room at the temporary City Hall in northeast Cedar Rapids. And right next door is the office of City Manager Jim Prosser, to whom Eyerly reports.

“I have a great working relationship with Jim Prosser,” he said. “I may disagree with him on some things, and I feel comfortable expressing that. I work for the community.”

First thing Monday, Eyerly said he sat down with Prosser and spelled out for him what he had scheduled for the first couple weeks of his new assignment.

Eyerly said he is headed to Des Moines on Tuesday to talk about flood recovery with officials of the Rebuild Iowa Office, the Iowa Department of Economic Development and the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Iowa office.

He will talk to the City Council on Wednesday evening about the city’s major flood-damaged buildings and about his goal to bring negotiations with the Federal Emergency Management Agency over the scope of the buildings’ damages to a successful conclusion by Oct. 31.

He said the city also is readying to unveil an addition to its Web page, which will allow people to see, step by step, how work on specific flood-related projects is progressing.

Yet this week, too, Eyerly said he hopes to get out into Cedar Rapids’ flood-damaged neighborhoods to take a look around and talk to people.

Eyerly said he can count his top priorities on one hand. He wants to find funding for flood-recovery projects and get it delivered; make sure the city is moving ahead in a timely manner on neighborhood and business recovery, property buyouts and demolitions, and future flood protection.

As for the city’s key flood-damaged buildings, Eyerly said the city and FEMA are in wide disagreement right now on the level of damage on the Veterans Memorial Building and the Central Fire Station, for instance.

One breakthrough, he said, is that FEMA has agreed to set aside its approach to the issue, which Eyerly said is based too much on prior disasters and square footage. The city and its consultants have been asking for a room-by-room analysis of the damages.

Eyerly said his mission is to make the post of flood-recovery director unnecessary in a year or two, he said.

Two factors that will help Cedar Rapids’ flood recovery have nothing to do with who is doing or not doing what, he said.

The city’s flood recovery will be helped if the national economy picks up and if the nation does not experience a major hurricane or other natural disaster this year, he said.

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  1. It sounds like the Council made a good decision selecting Greg Eyerly for this position. He did an extraordinary job as city Utilities manager during and following the flood and appears to be the right person for the job.

  2. I hope he is prepared to be the scapegoat for everything that goes wrong. That’s exactly why this position was hired so the City Manager would have someone else to blame it all on.

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