Flood sensor updates to help protect Iowans this spring

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The Iowa Flood Center’s Iowa Flood Information System shows the location of flood sensors throughout the state.

Julia Poska | March 17, 2020

Two major updates to Iowa’s network of flood sensors will help protect citizens and property this spring, when projections predict the state will see major flooding.

The Iowa Flood Center recently received $150,000 from the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, according to KCRG.  The IFC also received $30,000 from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. The network’s service provider is phasing-out the previously used technology, according to KCRG, so the funding will provide new modems and data plans to keep the sensors running.

The Iowa Department of Transportation has also installed five new flood sensors along the Iowa-Nebraska state boundary, the Iowa Capital Dispatch reported. Areas in both states along the Missouri River were devastated by floods last spring. With elevated flood risk forecast for this year, the sensors could help Iowa and Nebraska officials coordinate disaster response.

Nebraska nuclear plant to restart

Photo by Michael Kappel; Flickr

A Nebraska nuclear plant that has been idle for nearly three years, due to flooding and a series of safety concerns, was cleared to restart on Tuesday. Continue reading

Missouri River ranked 4th on “most endangered” list

Flooding from the Missouri River along the Iowa – Nebraska border. Photo by OmahaUSACE, Flickr.

According to American Rivers, an environmental conservation group, the Missouri River is number four on a new list of the country’s most endangered waterways. The group said the Missouri suffers from outdated flood management, as evidenced by the 2011 floods.

Eileen Fretz, spokeswoman for the group, said that after last year’s flooding, management of the Missouri needs to take a new direction.

“Just relying on dams and levees hasn’t been enough to protect us and we need to acknowledge that flooding happens and we need to accommodate for a little bit of that,” Fretz says. “We think that flood plain restoration can help us meet those needs.”

Fretz advises Iowans and Nebraskans to take action by visiting the group’s website, www.americanrivers.org.

For more information, read the full article at Radio Iowa.

Asian silver carp may spread to Iowa Great Lakes

Photo by michiganseagrant, Flickr.

The Asian silver carp continue to present issues for Iowa’s waterways. These fish entered a tributary of the Missouri River last year when floods allowed them to swim over the top of dams.

The carp could soon spread to the Iowa Great Lakes.

One major issue with the carp is that they leap out of the water and are capable of damaging vehicles and harming people that they make contact with.

Many Iowans feel that an electric barrier is necessary to keep the fish from spreading, but the Legislature has denied requests for funding so far.

Read more about the carp, and watch a video clip of the leaping fish, at the Des Moines Register’s website here.

Nebraska nuclear power plant under threat

Photo by US Department of Agriculture, Flickr

As the water levels on the Missouri River begin to grow, the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power Plant’s situation becomes more dire.

Read more from Examiner.com here:

After the Army released near record water from six major reservoirs, levees have failed to hold the Missouri River so flooding now poses a “serious threat” to Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power Plant according to today’s International Business Times article.

IBTimes Staff Reporter reported at 4:17 AM EDT that “Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant was reportedly very close to getting engulfed by the floodwaters, raising fears of a crisis similar to Japan’s Fukushima disaster.”

The nuclear plant declared the event as “unusual.” Continue reading

Nebraska power plant surrounded by flood waters

Iowa is certainly not the only state in the Midwest affected by flooding. Reuters reports that Nebraskans faced a scare when the Fort Calhoun nuclear power station became surrounded by water due to Missouri River flooding. Fortunately, the plant remains unharmed, and there’s no expectation that the flood will breach the barriers surrounding the facility:

The rising river “has certainly affected the site, but the plant itself, the actual reactor is still dry,” said Scott Burnell, Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman.

The 478-megawatt plant north of Omaha shut April 9 to refuel, and has remained shut because of the flooding, said Omaha Public Power District spokesman Jeff Hanson.

“When the river reaches 1,004 feet above mean sea level, we shut down,” said Hanson. “We don’t have any idea when we’ll be able to start again.” Continue reading

Iowa Flood Center to learn from Western Iowa flooding

Photo by Denise Krebs, Flickr

Researchers at the Iowa Flood Center see the flooding on the western Iowa border as an opportunity to learn more and prevent future floods.

Read the University of Iowa News release below:

As floodwaters on the Missouri River move relentlessly toward Iowa’s western border, scientists at the Iowa Flood Center (IFC) are making plans to study the water’s movements. Most of the western edge of the state faces the threat of flooding from the Missouri in the days and weeks ahead.

Iowa Flood Center Director Witold Krajewski says the IFC is planning to take aerial photographs of the flooded areas this week, collaborating with the University of Iowa’s Operator Performance Laboratory (OPL), which will fly one of its instrumented aircraft, a Beechcraft A-36 Bonanza, to conduct the photography sessions. The high-resolution photography, combined with statewide LiDAR (laser radar) data already available, will allow researchers to delineate the boundaries of inundated areas and compare these with existing floodplain maps. The improved maps will help Iowans know what to expect during future floods.

“We hope to take the photos at the peak stage of the flood,” Krajewski says. “The results will be extremely valuable as we continue to develop floodplain maps, which are useful for planners and property owners.” Continue reading