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IU assembling plan to 'disaster proof' its campuses

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Indiana University is creating a plan to seek federal aid to "disaster proof" its Bloomington, Indianapolis and regional campuses.

A goal of the plan is to allow the university to request Federal Emergency Management Agency funds directly instead of going through the county, as is the current policy.

Members of IU's Office of Emergency Management and Continuity and the Polis Center at IUPUI met recently to discuss the plan, which the university hopes to have approved and ready for FEMA's review by March. IU trustees also must sign off on the plan.

IU's emergency management team has reviewed the path of an F2 tornado that hit north of campus in 1973. If the storm had hit campus, more than 100 buildings could have been hit, and damage could have reached $1.3 billion, The Herald-Times reported.

Ken Long, assistant emergency management director for Bloomington's campus, said IU is interested in receiving funding to move utilities out of bottom floors to mitigate water issues during a flood. Other options would be to retrofit buildings and create better refuge from disasters, he said.

Those requests could be made sought independently of county requests under IU's proposal.

"The county can be separate (in applying for funding), so we can get things for each of us," Long said. "If we went within the county, it might lessen (the county's) chance of some of their projects getting approved."

Laura Danielson, a spokeswoman with the Polis Center, said that doesn't mean IU would break off from all county-generated FEMA requests.

"If there are funds that are more general, projects that could benefit the whole county, the county would go after (funding)," Danielson said. "If it's something the university uniquely wants to protect, like retrofitting a lab because it's got 30 years of research in it, then the university would go after that funding."

The plan being drafted only includes strategies, not actions to be taken at specific sites.

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