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  • Writer's pictureAbby Fowler

Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management: A Project for Morocco

From May 20th to 24th, we hosted a delegation from Morocco! This group of international leaders were in eastern Iowa for an IVLP program titled “Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management.” Their time in Iowa aimed to teach them about various organizations' role in emergency management and recovery.


Logan Timberlake waits to greet the delegation at the Quad Cities International Airport.

The group arrived at the Quad Cities International Airport and were greeted at the airport by Program Fellow Lexi Passno and her nephew Logan Timberlake. After arriving at their hotel, they had the rest of the evening to relax before programming the next day.


They began the next morning at the Amana Colonies for a cultural excursion with volunteer Jeanne Stoakes. Kirby Schaefer, a fifth generation Amanite, guided them around Amana, and the group had lunch at the Ox Yoke Inn.


After returning to Iowa City, the delegation had some free time before attending an Iowa Table Dinner hosted by Don and Suzanne Kirchner, joined by their friend Randy. They enjoyed the weather and engaging conversation over an outdoor meal.

“Kirchner family was really a great experience to share and discover the hospitality of Iowa's people. They were very nice and I learned a lot from them about the city, the history and culture of American people. Thanks a lot to this respectful family,” wrote a participant.

At the Amana Colonies with volunteer Jeanne Stoakes.

"Don and Suzanne Kirchner were very generous in opening their home for the entire delegation and made a great meal "A traditional American Barbeque" topped with a homemade ice cream! Superb hosts,” agreed interpreter Muna J. Abdi.

The next morning, volunteer Jasmine Grafton accompanied the delegation to their meeting with the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics Emergency Management. Various members of the department’s 34-person team met with the group to explain how their work ensures the hospital can continue their life-saving mission during major emergencies and disasters such as floods, tornados, infectious disease outbreaks, and acts of violence.

After a break for lunch, they met with the non-profit Together We Achieve, accompanied by volunteer Thomas Panther. Founder Raymond Siddell told the story about the evolution of this non-profit and how it has helped the community post-disaster, especially during the 2020 derecho, and they continue to serve as a communications tool during crises.

The morning of Tuesday, May 23rd, the group kicked off their final full day in Iowa with a meeting with the University of Iowa Department of Public Safety, accompanied by volunteer Steve Merkel-Hess. Director of Emergency Management Anna Lumpkin explained how they help coordinate drills and exercises with partners across campus who want to test components of their emergency plans. They are also home to the Campus Police Department.


Meeting with Anna Lumpkin of the University of Iowa Department of Public Safety.

For their final meeting, the delegation hopped on a bus to Ely for a meeting with the Ely City Fire Department. There, they discussed how a volunteer-based department works with other agencies in case of an emergency. They also discussed how volunteers are recruited, trained, and retained. After the meeting, they stopped at Dan and Debbie’s Creamery where they enjoyed delicious ice cream made with local dairy. According to Production Development Manager Bridgette Banda, the group enjoyed seeing the dairy being bottled and kept coming back for more ice cream!

“We were impressed with the mobilization of volunteers to help communities, in particular, Ely Fire Department,” wrote participant Tarik Benrochd.

The delegation flew out of eastern Iowa the following afternoon bound for the next part of their program in Denver, Colorado. Their time in Iowa was very informative.

“Anna Lumpkin, Director of Emergency Management [at the] University of Iowa Department of Public Safety, was brilliant in her responses and sharing her expertise. Also, the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics Emergency Management team was very hospitable and were also very informative,” commented interpreter Muna J. Abdi.

Thank you to volunteers Lexi Passno, Logan Timberlake, Jeanne Stoakes, Don and Suzanne Kirchner, Jasmine Grafton, Thomas Panther, and Steve Merkel-Hess for volunteering with this delegation! Your time and hospitality did not go unappreciated by the delegation!

Thank you to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics Emergency Management, Together We Achieve, the University of Iowa Department of Public Safety, and the Ely City Fire Department for being our professional resources for this program! We could not connect the world and the heartland without you all taking the time out of your day to share your knowledge and expertise.

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