Flooding along the railroad tracks in Fredonia

IFC Helps Solve Flooding Problems in Fredonia

Flooding along the railroad tracks in Fredonia

Flooding along the railroad tracks in Fredonia

Each year, more towns in Iowa find themselves underwater. Many of them have small populations with limited resources, so they turn to other means for help. Robert Bright, a former city councilor from Fredonia, Iowa, contacted the Iowa Flood Center (IFC) at the University of Iowa in the summer of 2019 searching for assistance. Fredonia was underwater (again), and residents wanted answers about how to reduce their flooding and manage the water coming into town.

In June, the IFC’s Dan Gilles and Associate Director Nate Young visited Fredonia to get a better understanding of the local flood impacts.

“Since it wasn’t exactly from a major river, it’s really helpful to go to these places and see where this flooding is originating from,” Gilles says.

A map showing the natural flow of the water into Fredonia

In Fredonia, it was clear that water runoff from upstream was flowing directly into and along a railroad embankment. From there, it was redirected into the town.

They took photos, pulled LiDAR data, and used GIS (geographic information system) data to get the full picture of what they were up against.

Fredonia also contacted the Louisa County engineer, Larry Roehl, who has experience with engineering projects and difficulties in the area. The clear directionality of the flash flooding they were experiencing and local analyses helped Fredonians understand what was likely causing the flooding.

The flood center provided technical expertise to make a scientific assessment and compile a report. The final report offered solutions to the city’s flooding problems and identified next steps for the community to pursue. Fredonia used the report in an application for flood recovery and mitigation funding, which resulted in more than $100,000 for the community’s flood mitigation projects.

Gilles says in many cases, small towns such as Fredonia need a limited study and report to apply for flood assistance, which IFC can sometimes provide free of charge depending on the situation.