The Iowa Flood Center (IFC) offers a suite of online tools, the Iowa Flood Information System (IFIS), that allows all Iowans to access the latest community-based flood information. IFIS is a user-friendly online application based on a Google Maps interface. To launch IFIS, visit http://ifis.iowafloodcenter.org.
New for 2017, IFIS offers a more responsive design. New features include a community flood map widget that allows website owners to add a customizable IFIS widget to their site. IFIS users can also download the IFIS app to their smartphone or tablet for fast, convenient, real-time data (view download instructions here). In addition, IFIS users can sign up to receive a text with current flood conditions from a specific stream-stage sensor close to their home or business.
IFIS displays up-to-the-minute community-specific information on rainfall, stream levels, and more, including:
- Current flood warnings and stream forecasts
- Real-time rainfall maps displaying current conditions and past rainfall accumulations
- Real-time and historical data on stream levels
- 2D and 3D interactive visualizations
IFIS also provides flood inundation maps for 22 flood-prone communities across Iowa. These maps allow users to see what a forecasted flood crest would mean for their home or business. Maps are available for Ames, Cedar Rapids, Charles City, Columbus Junction, Des Moines, Elkader, Hills, Humboldt, Independence, Iowa City, Kalona, Maquoketa, Mason City, Monticello, Ottumwa, Red Oak, Rock Rapids, Rock Valley, Spencer, and Waterloo/Cedar Falls, Waverly. IFC researchers continue to develop flood inundation maps for more Iowa communities every year, including at least four new maps this year for Clarksville, Ida Grove, and Fort Dodge.
IFIS helps Iowans make better-informed decisions on flood planning and mitigation efforts and alerts communities in advance to help them prepare for and minimize potential flood damage. Watershed management authority groups across the state can also use IFIS to assist with conservation planning to improve soil and reduce flood risk and to protect people and infrastructure.
The Iowa Legislature established the Iowa Flood Center at the University of Iowa in 2009 to provide accurate, 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. For more information, visit www.iowafloodcenter.org.
Charles City Press front page
Subcommittee proposes slashing center’s budget
By Kate Hayden
DES MOINES — Funding for the Iowa Flood Center could be slashed from $1.5 million annually to zero in a new Education Appropriations subcommittee bill from Iowa legislators.
Subcommittee members met Tuesday afternoon to review the General Fund proposal, which included the Iowa Flood Center under Board of Regents budget items. The center is located at the University of Iowa and staffed by university faculty, who operate the IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering department and laboratory. Action on the proposal is not expected to take place until Wednesday.
“It’s a challenging time. We hear over and over that the state budget is very tight this year, and legislators have been looking for ways to reduce their state budget,” Larry Weber, director of the IIHR Hydroscience department, told the Press. “We have been working today, and as we do all year, to communicate the value of the Iowa Flood Center.”
Cuts to the flood center “would effectively eliminate the Iowa Flood Center,” Weber said in an email to supporters, and would jeopardize the state’s $96 million federal Iowa Watershed Approach HUD grant
“We had just received five additional years of funding for this $96.9 million grant,” Weber told the Press. “We leveraged all of our information systems, and said we have this tremendous hydroscience center … They gave us the fourth largest amount of the award.
“If our funding goes away, it’s likely we lose those grants,” he said.
That grant money supports watersheds, researchers at Iowa universities and state agencies, Weber added.
“It’s simply not about the flood center. It’s about Iowa,” he said.
The flood center was established and funded in 2009 by the Iowa legislature following the statewide destruction caused by 2008 floods, including in Charles City and surrounding communities.
Charles City city officials have been active in partnering with the Iowa Flood Center and other agencies through the Cedar River Watershed Coalition. That partnership helped lead the development of CREP (Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program) wetlands along the Avenue of the Saints, Weber said.
Charles City is one of many entities making up the Upper Cedar Watershed Management Authority that has worked with the Iowa Flood Center on projects, Mayor Jim Erb said.
“We’re planning to do a number of initiatives, so anytime something like the flood center gets zeroed out, that’s a problem for everyone involved,” Erb said.