Iowa Flood Center Aids Local Governments In The Wake Of 2008 Floods

Jun 14, 2018

Ten years after floodwaters pummeled Eastern Iowa, some local officials say they’re better equipped than ever to track the next big flood. 

Coralville residents are evacuated after floodwaters washed through the city in June 2008.
Credit Don Becker via USGS / https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rescued_Flood_Victims,_Coralville,_IA_(2593492801).jpg

After the record floods of 2008, the state established the Iowa Flood Center, housed at the University of Iowa, to gather the data needed to make the state more resilient. Since then, researchers have created flood maps for every major stream in Iowa, and worked with local governments to install hundreds of remote sensors, providing real time information on water levels.

Coralville City Administrator Kelly Hayworth said that data has helped shape flood control projects across Eastern Iowa.

“We have more information today than we can ever imagine. And we know so much about the Iowa River, all the creeks that enter that,” Hayworth said.

Iowa City Public Works Director Ron Knocke said the data is now being used to update the maps used for flood insurance.

"In regards to the floodmapping that we did of the Iowa River, we probably have in the stretch of the river south or downstream of the Coralville Reservoir, one of the most researched pieces of river in the country," Knocke said.

The data generated by the Iowa Flood Center won’t stop the next flood. But researchers and local officials hope it will help them predict it and prepare for it.