IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL) – One year after the historic floods of 2008, the Iowa Flood Center began finding ways to prevent and mitigate flooding across the state. Today, the center celebrated 10 years of healing, recovery and problem solving.
“I can’t help but think of eleven years ago,” University of Iowa VP of Finance and Operations Rod Lehnertz said. “Today, on the 13th, was Friday the 13th and it was the day we lost the University of Iowa.”
UI lost one-quarter of its classrooms and one-sixth of its square footage during the floods that caused an estimated $6 billion in damage across the state. Since, in partnership with the university, the Iowa Flood Center has become a beacon of information for Iowans facing flooding.
“We monitor stream flow at 400 locations,” Director Witold F. Krajewski said. “I think every year Iowans benefit from the fact that we are here.”
Current and former state lawmakers in attendance confirmed Krajewski’s premonition.
“People came up to me and said the information provided by the Iowa Flood Center was critical to their response. Without that information, they could not make the judgments, they could not take the action,” Mark Schouten, former Iowa Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, said.
“This shouldn’t just be the Iowa Flood Center, it should be the National Flood Center,” Lehnertz said, praising the work they’ve done in the past 10 years.
While today was a celebration, up against a river with water levels receding, the atmosphere in the room was one of people ready to keep working.
“A beautiful, sunny day, when the flood waters are receding, is actually the type of day where we need to get to work on safeguarding our people and property from flood damage,” Iowa State Senator Rob Hogg (D) said.
Everyday Iowans can get involved by channeling the “spirit of the sandbag,” as Hogg called it, and mitigating in their community as they know best.