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As Texas looks to get flood prepared, Iowa Flood Center lends them expertise

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL) -- Cities across the U.S. have seen unprecedented rainfall and flooding over the last several years, one of the most hard-hit communities in the state of Texas.

That's why a delegation of engineers and leaders across the state of Texas were at the University of Iowa today to learn about the work the Iowa Flood Center has done over the last decade.

Since Hurricane Harvey rocked the state, federal dollars have poured in to mitigate future flood risks. The delegation's goal was to take a page out of the flood center's playbook with how to deal with rising water.

From mapping to monitoring systems, Texas researchers and engineers were taking it all in during an open house earlier today. Learning what could help them battle against the increase in flooding.

"We've lost over 160 lives in just the last few years," said Chief of Water Resources of the Army Corps of Engineers in the Fort Worth District, Jerry Cotter, "We've received property damage in excess of $100 billion from all flood-related since 2015 this really fired up and we've seen an uptick in severe weather events."

"Recently we've had lots of floods that have been unprecedented," said Chief of Water Management for the Army Corps of Engineer's Galveston District, Sarah Delazan, "2015 started a wave almost every year since then we've had a major flood event. one of them was Hurricane Harvey."

Delazan, a delegate from Galveston, an island off the coast near Houston, said one of her big takeaways was how the center communicates flood risks with the public.

"To evacuate their homes, when not to evacuate their homes is really important information and how they want to get that information is very important for us as engineers and emergency managers," said Delazan.

"They've shown interest in the way we decimate this information to the people of Iowa," said Flood Center Director Witold Krajewski, "This is fairly unique because the systems we have developed are targeting the general public."

Krajewski acknowledged while Texas has its own set of unique challenges it's up to the researches to see how their techniques could be best applied in Texas.

"We do have expertise talking about river flooding and in those coastal states there is a compound effect of the two and that's when it gets really bad, when the two meet," said Krajewski.

One of Cotter's big takeaways is the way the center is able to fill in the gap without overlapping on existing agencies.

"The organized center is the first thing so we don't have a single group that managest modeling and things during a flood event," said Cotter.

The computer systems developed at the center give real-time information and measurements during a storm.

"How deep is it going to get and what are the consequences of that? So that's all covered in the Iowa system," said Cotter.

Texas is just the second state to send delegates to learn from the work done by the flood center, North Carolina also made a recent visit.

"All of the projections from the climate model indicate that this part of the country will continue to get wetter, so we need to be prepared," said Krajewski.

The delegates will take all of the information and techniques back to Texas and present them to state legislatures and leaders to determine how to best deal with and communicate with the public about flood risks.

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Ashley Neighbor

Reporter, Cedar Rapids

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