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60 buildings deemed unsafe in Iowa community hit by tornado

September 20, 2018

MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa (AP) — City officials in central Iowa have designated about 60 structures as unsafe following a July tornado that damaged about 2,000 buildings.

The properties in Marshalltown now have small red posters that say “Dangerous building — do not occupy,” The Times-Republican reported . City officials placed the signs after engineers assessed the structures.

The posters are a warning, not an eviction notice, said city housing and community development director Michelle Sponheimer. Owners can decide if they want to rebuild or demolish the structure.

“We certainly want people to know there’s a risk and a danger — we highly recommend that (residents) do find alternate housing, because we don’t want to see anyone injured,” she said.

The nonprofit Mid-Iowa Community Action is helping displaced residents find alternate housing, Sponheimer said.

“We recognize that that’s a very scary thing for a family to have to go through if they’re still staying,” she said. “We’re not trying to force a whole lot of action immediately ... but we do have certain procedures we have to go by and follow.”

The city may eventually need to demolish unsafe properties that are abandoned because they pose a risk to public safety, Sponheimer said. The city may seek demolition funding assistance from entities such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, she said.

Residents who have questions about the unsafe designation should reach out to the housing and community development office, she said.

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Information from: Times-Republican, http://www.timesrepublican.com

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