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Iowa Flood Center looks to next generation of risk assessment

Iowa Flood Center at the University of Iowa. The center studies flood prevention. (CBS2/FOX28)

The Iowa Flood Center at the University of Iowa hosted a nationally known flood expert on Wednesday to explore the next generation of flood risk prediction.

John Dorman, Director of North Carolina’s Risk Management Office oversees the leading edge of flood risk assessment and damage prediction.

“During a real time event we can tell them before the water gets there how deep it's going to flood and which building is going to flood and that actually saves lives,” says Dorman.

The use advanced mapping combined with infrastructure data complete with property information that lets look at their flood risk house by house.

They hope the information they provide will encourage more people in at risk areas to be more prepared.

“We are trying to get more people to buy flood insurance and the way to do that is to speak to their wallet and also speak to what's actually going to happen to their property,” says Dorman.

The Iowa Flood Center does significant work on real time flood tracking and warning but they see deep value in predicting damage door to door.

“The impact is at the individual structural level, you know a private house or business,” says Witold Krajewski, Director of the Iowa Flood Center.

The information a system like Dorman’s provides is critical for residents and responders in a time of crisis.

Colonel Tim Eich, Chief of Joint Staff for the Iowa National Guard joined the lecture to take a look at this valuable resource.

“The more accurate information that we have the quicker we can accomplish our mission,” says Eich, adding that the guards most common emergency response is for flooding.

Dorman and his team are happy to share their work and they are already helping several other states but because of major Flood Center budget cuts from the state moving forward in Iowa will be a challenge.

“With the money that we have we can maintain what we have done but it's very difficult to enhance and further develop the system,” says Krajewski.

He estimates the flood center would need the funding for 3 to 5 addition staff if to start implementing Dorman’s ideas.

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