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Flood 2013: IIHR Updates

Posted on May 31st, 2013

IIHR students help out on-campus sandbagging efforts.

IIHR students help out on-campus sandbagging efforts.

Since keeping our constituents well-informed is an essential first step to a well-coordinated flood response, members of the IIHR leadership team (Larry Weber, Troy Lyons, Mark Wilson, Teresa Gaffey, and Carmen Langel) have created this blog to keep all our people (alumni included!) in the loop.

More Photos: Flood 2013: Protecting Campus (Photos by Aneta Goska)

June 3, 2013

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers revised the projected crest for the Coralville Lake Reservoir — their latest prediction is that the reservoir will reach only 710 feet, which is a full two feet below the emergency spillway. This is the best possible news!

SHL Update: The Iowa River is just inches below the glass block windows, which were boarded up last week. The sump pumps are keeping up with leaks. We decided to allow research to continue in the towing tank this week.

All of IIHR’s other facilities are fine, and we are optimistic that we’ll get through this flood without any major problems. Keep your fingers crossed that we will not have any significant precipitation in our watershed in the next few days!

For more, visit the University of Iowa site with campus-wide flood preparation information and resources.

May 31, 2013

Iowa River Update (as of 5/31): We did not receive as much precipitation in our watershed over the past 24 hours as was anticipated. The Coralville Reservoir is now expected to only reach about 712 feet, which is right at the level of the emergency spillway and lower than yesterday’s prediction. This would result in a discharge of about 20,000 cfs.

SHL update: The windows in the SHL sub-basement have been boarded up. We have two sump pumps keeping up with various  leaks. Research activities in the tow tank are suspended next week.

Other facilities: Our Floodplain Mapping team in IATL was happy to learn today that they are not being evacuated. Some of our larger pumps in the south annexes have been disconnected and elevated to prevent damage in the event of flooding in the pits.

For now, we are cautiously optimistic that current predictions hold or go down again. If so, all our facilities should be fine.

Finally, a big thank you to everyone who helped fill sandbags at the UI water plant and by our south annexes today. Your assistance was greatly appreciated.

May 30, 2013

On Thursday, May 30, the leadership group began meeting daily to monitor flooding on the Iowa River and to take any actions needed to minimize potential flood damage to the Stanley Hydraulic Lab (SHL) and other IIHR facilities. IIHR staff, faculty, and students are receiving regular updates via email. If you use any of the IIHR facilities near the Iowa River, watch your email for important information!

Iowa River Update (as of 5/30): On Thursday, May 30, we were at 10,000 cfs in Iowa City.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is expected to increased the discharge at the Coralville Dam to 17,000 cfs on Friday.  By Monday, the dam discharge will reach 20,000 cfs. The current prediction is that the crest/maximum flow will occur on June 8 or 9, when the reservoir reaches 713.5 feet. (Note: The emergency spillway is at 712 feet!) This will result in a peak flow of about 23,500 cfs. These numbers are all based on an expectation of about one-half to one inch of precipitation in the Iowa River watershed in the next 24 hours. (By comparison, the 2008 maximum flow was 40,800 cfs.)

Sand-filled HESCO barriers on both sides of the Iowa river help protect campus buildings at the University of Iowa.

Sand-filled HESCO barriers on both sides of the Iowa river help protect campus buildings at the University of Iowa.

Based on these anticipated flows, we are starting to take early actions, such as boarding up windows in the SHL sub-basement, reserving pumps and generators, and securing sand and sandbags.

We are counting on our IIHR family to be a critical part of our flood response team and may call upon you for help in the coming days. Tomorrow, for example, IIHR students are asked to pitched in to help fill and place sandbags.

If flood projections increase to the extent of needing to evacuate SHL or any of our other facilities, we will be in touch with our on-campus constituents to provide as much detail and advance warning as possible.

Watch this space for additional information in the coming days as the scenario continues to unfold.

The "invisible flood wall" becomes visible as crews erect the structure around the Art Building West.

The “invisible flood wall” becomes visible as crews erect the structure around the Art Building West.

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