Friday marks 10th anniversary of 2008 floods for Iowa City and C - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Friday marks 10th anniversary of 2008 floods for Iowa City and Coralville

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All this week, Iowa communities have looked back ten years after the 2008 floods hit city by city. On June 15, ten years ago, the flood struck Johnson County, putting Coralville and Iowa City underwater.

In Johnson County, nearly 800 homes and 260 businesses were damaged by flood waters in the summer of 2008, in what ended up being the most severe flood in the county's history.

On Monday, the city of Coralville highlighted its flood mitigation efforts it has established since the devastating flood.

The University of Iowa campus took on much of that flood damage in Iowa City. It hit 20 campus buildings. To date, over $700-million has been spent repairing and rebuilding the campus. The flood would also hit neighborhoods in Iowa City.

For Jane Omann, the memories of June 15, 2008 come back vividly.

"We didn't really panic, and we should have," Omann said.

Omann and her husband had taken efforts to sandbag their home of 40 years. They lifted furniture ten-inches off the ground, just in case the water came up to her riverside home on Normandy Drive.

In the early morning of that day, they were awoken to police at their home telling them they had to evacuate. They were only given 30 minutes to get out, in what Omann described as a moment of confusion and chaos.

"I grabbed my vacuum cleaner," Omann recounts with a laugh. "Which was new and cost 650-dollars.  And I grabbed a vase of peacock feathers, my purse and my husband grabbed his hunting guns, and that was it."

It'd be weeks before she and the others in her neighborhood could return home to see the damage.

"It was horrible. We didn't know what was what. We didn't know what we were going to walk into," she said.

When they returned, they found their home 38-inches under water.

"I just stood there and cried. Everything was gone. Refrigerators were upside down," Omann said.

For the university, a silver lining came with the creation of the Iowa Flood Center out of the university's hydroscience program.

"This is unique. It's the only state-funded flood center in the country, if not the world," Nate Young, the Associate Director of the flood center, said.

For the better part of the last decade, the center has been working to help educate communities about their flood risks, and to better predict when it will happen.

"We've deployed sensors throughout the state that measure water levels in streams, rainfall, and soil moisture," Young said. "It allows us to track the rising and falling of water in different parts of the state; understand where flooding is occurring, anticipate when flooding might occur downstream."

One creation from the center was a community-based flood inundation map for 23 Iowa communities. The map illustrates the effect of flooding for each area to let residents see how predicted flood levels could affect their property.

More information about the Iowa Flood Center and its resources can be found here.

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