Clarksville inundation maps

IFC Releases New Flood Inundation Maps

The Iowa Flood Information System (IFIS) is an evolving web tool that is continually expanding the scope of its features. IFIS now offers Iowans access to flood inundation maps for 24 Iowa communities, up from 10 communities in 2013.

Flood inundation maps are particularly useful during flood events to help people visualize the potential extent of flooding at a range of river levels. This information can help individuals and communities plan and make sound mitigation decisions, and allows homeowners, business owners, and others to see how predicted flood levels might affect their property. Please Note: These are NOT regulatory floodplain maps that can affect insurance. Rather, they offer information people need to plan for and be ready for future flood events.

IFIS includes a full set of flood inundation maps for the following communities:

How to Access Flood Inundation Maps on IFIS

From the IFIS homepage, select the button for “inundation maps.” Users can then select one of the highlighted communities listed above and use the flood map controller slider bar on the right to see the potential extent of flooding at any selected stage or discharge. IFIS uses a Google Maps interface, so users can zoom in and out, switch to different views (satellite and street view), and navigate around the map.


Also new on IFIS is the web tool Hazus, which allows users to estimate the cost of flood damages to buildings and other structures in various flooding scenarios. Hazus data is currently available for 12 Iowa communities, and IFC researchers are working to expand the tool to cover the entire state. Currently, IFIS provides flood loss and damage estimation for Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Iowa City, Independence, Kalona, Rock Rapids, and Rock Valley.

Hazus, developed and distributed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is a multi- natural hazard analysis tool. The web tool models the effects that natural hazards of various intensities can have on buildings and other structures in a given area, and then quantifies the total damage in dollars.

How to operate Hazus

Users can view flood damage for one of these communities by clicking on the “Damage Estimate” button and sliding the “Flood Map Controller” to model different scenarios.

For example, users can select Iowa City, simulate a 30-foot stage flood, and receive a total damage estimate of $19 million, which factors in the number of buildings damaged and the cost of the damage to their structure and content. Users can also click on individual buildings in the flooded area to access estimates of content and structural damage to those buildings. IFC researchers plan to add additional analysis layers that will include the number of schools, critical structures, and emergency centers affected in the damage estimate. The research team will add the additional layers after bringing the current level of analysis to all Iowa communities.

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Flood Inundation Maps for Independence

By Shianne Gruss, IIHR—Hydroscience & Engineering

Citizens of Independence can now access online maps that show how flooding events are likely to affect their community, homes, and businesses. Independence is one of 14 Iowa cities to be part of the Iowa Flood Center’s (IFC) community-based flood inundation mapping project.

“We’ve been moving through and trying to [map] most of the major communities located on rivers in Iowa,” says Dan Gilles, IFC water resources engineer. He says the team surveys a few cities each year.

The project, which is in its sixth year, provides select Iowa communities with online access to real-time flood information. The maps live on the Iowa Flood Information System (IFIS), an interactive Google-maps based tool. Sliders allow users to view the extent of flooding at various river flood stages.

IFIS Inependence

The inundation maps for Independence can be viewed by the public on on the Iowa Flood Information System.

A major reason Independence was selected, says Gilles, was because of its recent flooding history. In 2013, the Wapsipinicon River was expected to crest at an all-time high after six inches of rain fell in the area overnight, but it surprisingly crested just two feet above flood stage.


Dan Gilles, Water Resources Engineer

“When a situation like that happens, community members are always wondering how high the water is going to get and whether they need to evacuate,” says Gilles. While the maps do not improve the forecast, they do improve the ability of the IFC to communicate what will happen during a flood event.

Situated along the fifth largest river in Iowa (excluding the Missouri and Mississippi) and near a dam, Independence is prone to flooding. “Usually communities are a lot more willing to go through this process of creating maps if they’ve found a need for them,” says Gilles.

Local emergency management personnel definitely see the need and have supported the project from the beginning. Rick Wulfekuhle, Buchanan County emergency management coordinator, says the maps could help different emergency services respond appropriately to a flood event with their distinct resources.

The IFC will present the project at the Independence City Council meeting on Monday, April 13.

The Iowa Flood Center is part of IIHR—Hydroscience & Engineering, a unit of the UI College of Engineering. The IFC was created in 2009 in the aftermath of the historic 2008 Iowa floods and is supported by state appropriations to improve flood monitoring and prevention in Iowa.

The maps for Independence and other communities can be viewed online at:

Cedar Valley Has New Tool in the Fight Against Floods Cedar Falls Courier,Published on: June 17th, 2014

New Flood Preparedness Tool for Waterloo, Cedar Falls

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 second source is the Iowa Flood Center’s Iowa Flood Information System (IFIS).  Go to the Flood Maps section on the right hand side of the page and select Cedar Falls or Waterloo.

Interactive flood maps for Waterloo and Cedar Falls are available on the Iowa Flood Information System. Similar maps are also available for 12 other Iowa communities.

Interactive flood maps for Waterloo and Cedar Falls are available on the Iowa Flood Information System. Similar maps are also available for 12 other Iowa communities.

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.

NWS Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service

The direct link is

Iowa Flood Information System

The direct link is


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