New Iowa Flood Center maps may prepare Iowans for flooding - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

New Iowa Flood Center maps may prepare Iowans for flooding

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) -- The Iowa Flood Center is unveiling a new website, aimed at helping Iowans better understand what they're facing when flood alerts are issued.

The IFC itself is a groundbreaking organization created in response to the devastating floods of 2008. With, initially, only one year of funding, the group worked fast to come up with research and planning tools that will benefit Iowans.

"In 2008 the National Weather Service was doing as they should and making river level forecasts for communities," said Dr. Larry Weber, one of the founders of the IFC. "But community members, homeowners, business owners have no idea what that elevation of 28 feet means with respect to flood inundation in their neighborhood or in their business area."

The IFC's funding has been extended for at least one more year, allowing researchers to now launching the new Flood Inundation Map system, laying out flood levels in six Iowa communities. The site takes you down to a block-by-block view, using Google Map technology to show you how your neighborhood would fare at various river levels.

There's another section that takes planning even further -- although it hasn't officially launched yet. The Iowa Flood Information System contains details on every river basin in Iowa. You can learn how much rain has fallen, how high the river is under various IFC bridge sensors, and it even gives you a 3D model of flood levels under those bridges. To top it off, the site creators are making it as user-friendly as possible.

But the researchers have a larger mission in mind as they're developing these programs. Their goal is to take the research beyond what might happen to your house, to how Iowa can prevent flooding in the future.

"Long-term, we want to start thinking about things in a watershed perspective, and the tools and technology and the modeling will be instrumental in those discussions," Weber said.

This is the first flood center of its kind in the nation, and Weber is amazed at the amount of progress they've made in a little more than one year. He is hopeful national weather experts will see the progress, and designate Iowa City as the National Flood Center.

To view the site yourself, click here.

Online Reporter Colleen O'Shaughnessy

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