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IA Officials: Dry Spells Don't Preclude Future Flooding

Flooding is the most predictable hazard from which communities continue to suffer losses, according to Bill Cappuccio, Iowa Department of Natural Resources....

By Tina Hinz, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, Iowa
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

May 24--CEDAR FALLS -- This year's record dry spell doesn't mean Black Hawk County is out of the water.

National, state and local officials updated residents on progress since 2008, provided resources and encouraged them to prepare for future flooding during "Don't Test the Waters: Black Hawk County," a sparsely attended community outreach forum presented by an interagency coalition at City Hall on Tuesday.

Flooding is the most predictable hazard from which communities continue to suffer losses, according to Bill Cappuccio, senior natural resources engineer with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. He spoke about accurately mapping where floods are likely to occur.

He directed people to the Iowa Flood Center, where researchers have designed a cost-efficient sensor network to better monitor stream flow in the state, have developed a library of flood-inundation maps for several Iowa communities and are working on a large project to develop new floodplain maps for 85 of Iowa's 99 counties, according to iowafloodcenter.org.

In terms of total monetary flood damages since 1950, Iowa ranks No. 2 in the country next to Texas, which deals with hurricanes and tropical storms, said Jeff Zogg, a senior hydrologist at the National Weather Service in Des Moines. The NWS website, weather.gov, offers weather, flooding and rainfall forecasts, radar imagery, as well as watches, warnings and advisories.

"There's always a worse flood out there," he said. "Now is the time to prepare. Put your disaster plan together, so when severe weather does strike, you know what to do."

Zogg offered said a flash flood, which typically occurs within six hours after heavy rainfall and kills more people than normal flooding.

"Because it comes up so quickly, it can catch people off guard," he said. "Know what the threat is and when to expect it. Six inches of moving water can knock a person off their feet."

A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radio provides severe weather updates, he said. Or residents soon can sign up for Black Hawk County Alerts, which will replace CodeRED for issuing warnings by telephone.

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Tom Alger, communications director with the Iowa Insurance Division in Des Moines, said a flood insurance policy likely involves a 30-day wait before taking effect. Most homeowners policies do not cover flood damage or sewer backup. Check out www.FloodSmart.gov for details on the National Flood Insurance Program.

Ron Gaines, director of developmental services for Cedar Falls, and Jamie Knutson, associate engineer for Waterloo, highlighted flood protection and prevention efforts. Gaines praised the city's buyout program. Knutson mapped out future pump station locations.

More information is available at www.DontTestTheWatersIowa.gov.

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(c)2012 Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (Waterloo, Iowa)

Visit Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (Waterloo, Iowa) at www.wcfcourier.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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