New Flood Preparedness Tool Available for Cedar Falls, Waterloo

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A dynamic, new online flood preparedness tool which will help emergency managers improve flood warnings and response has been developed for the Cedar River at Cedar Falls and Waterloo, Iowa.

The National Weather Service collaborated with the Iowa Flood Center to develop a library of flood inundation maps for the Cedar River.  The final version of these flood inundation maps are the culmination of a partnership between the Iowa Flood Center (IFC), the City of Cedar Falls, the City of Waterloo, the NOAA Central Region – Regional Collaboration Team and the National Weather Service (NWS).  This capability will help communicate the flood risks for areas along the Cedar River.

Because this new tool is so critical during floods, it is available from two sources.  The first source is the NWS Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service (AHPS) Web site.  On the AHPS pages for the Cedar River at Cedar Falls and Waterloo, click on the tab near the top of the page named “Inundation Mapping.”  The direct link is http://water.weather.gov/ahps2/inundation/inundation_google.php?gage=cedi4 .  The second source is the Iowa Flood Center’s Iowa Flood Information System (IFIS).  The direct link is http://ifis.iowafloodcenter.org/ifis/en/ .  Go to the Flood Maps section on the right hand side of the page and select Cedar Falls or Waterloo.

Flood inundation maps help people visualize the potential extent of flooding at various river levels.  This information can assist in planning and mitigation decisions.

Dr. Nathan Young, Associate Director of the Iowa Flood Center, said the IFC has been developing flood inundation maps since the IFC’s inception in 2009.  “This is an opportunity for us to apply research that is useful and meaningful for Iowans,” he said.  “These detailed maps demonstrate the extent of the flooded landscape with every twelve-inch rise in the flood level.  We believe this information will empower communities and individuals to make informed decisions about their flood risks.”

Jeff Zogg, Senior Hydrologist for the National Weather Service in Des Moines, said the development of the Cedar Falls flood inundation maps was a team effort which resulted in valuable tools for people in the Cedar Falls and Waterloo area.  “Many people worked together to make these maps available.  We especially appreciate the involvement of local community officials in Cedar Falls and Waterloo.  These maps will help the NWS provide enhanced decision support services to people there.”

Marty Ryan, Cedar Falls City Planner, echoes those sentiments as applied to Cedar Falls.  “Public safety personnel and utilities service personnel can utilize these maps to assist with proper evacuation protocols when necessary or otherwise ensure that critical utility services are not compromised or cause any public safety concerns during flood events.”

Jamie Knutson, Waterloo Flood Engineer said that the flood inundation maps will be valuable for multiple reasons.  “The flood inundation maps will allow for better long range planning and allow for better decision making early on in the flood for which areas may need to be evacuated.  This will be a nice addition to our flood fighting tools.”

The National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories.  The National Weather Service operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world, helping to protect lives and property and to enhance the national economy.  The NWS provides decision support services as well as enhanced services to local, state, and regional decision makers.  For other locations where flood inundation maps are available see the National Weather Service AHPS Web site.

The Iowa Flood Center is part of IIHR—Hydroscience & Engineering, a research institute based at the University of Iowa’s College of Engineering.  The IFC provides accurate, state-of-the-science-based information to help Iowans better understand their flood risks.  It is the nation’s first academic center devoted solely to the study of floods.  Additional IFC resources—including flood inundation maps for other Iowa communities—can be found on the Iowa Flood Center Web site.

The City of Cedar Falls has critical river levees protecting the downtown area, the City wastewater treatment plant and Cedar Falls Utilities.  The City will upgrade its downtown levee next year to increase the flood protection level.  More information about the City of Cedar Falls and its departments can be found on the City of Cedar Falls Web site.

The Cedar Falls flood inundation maps are based on observations and forecasts involving readings from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) stream gage along the Cedar River at Cedar Falls.  More information about USGS streamgaging in Iowa is available on the USGS Iowa Water Science Center Web site.

The City of Waterloo has 20 miles of levees and flood walls to help protect its citizens from the Cedar River.  In order to operate the levee system, a number of different City departments are involved during a flood including Engineering, Public Works, Waste Management, Leisure Services, Police and Fire.  More information about the City of Waterloo and its departments can be found on the City of Waterloo Web site.