DES MOINES, IOWA — When the worst hits Iowa – flooding, tornados, derecho or worse – will our state, local and federal partners be ready to respond? That was the question that a diverse group of leaders tried to find out on Tuesday in a training exercise at Camp Dodge in Johnston.

“It is really the worst days in Iowa that you could ever imagine,” said Col. Eric Soults of the Iowa National Guard, who hosted the event. Along with the state’s military leaders, agencies including utility companies and state, county and city leaders took part in an exercise to test their ability to respond individually and as a team.

For the National Guard, it was an important opportunity for them to clarify their role as a support agency and meet community leaders who they’ll be called on to serve. “It’s an incredibly important mission because we build relationships through this process. That’s what it comes down to is building that trust and transparency with what the Iowa National Guard can do and can’t do with relation to our state partners,” says Soults, “We are here as a support agency and this highlights that and allows the state to drive the mission.”