Jun 03 2013

A Few Good Reads (6/3/13): Flooding in Oklahoma Less Than 2 Weeks After Devastating Tornadoes

This week: Flooding in Oklahoma less than 2 weeks after devastating tornadoes, Iowa City dodges major flooding for now, more on the Washington State bridge collapse, China stepping up flood preparations after 55 people die in May flooding, the latest USACE cost analysis of the Morganza to Gulf Coast levee along Louisiana coast, and plugging the New York City subway in a flood.


9 dead after tornadoes, floods strike Oklahoma (USA Today)

Severe flooding was the big issue Saturday as officials began surveying damage from tornadoes that hit the Oklahoma City metro area Friday, killing 9 and injuring more than 100 people.

The storm, the second fatal one to strike the region in 11 days, spawned several tornadoes, toppled cars and left commuters trapped on an interstate highway during Friday’s evening rush. Law enforcement officers and Red Cross workers headed to hard-hit areas after dawn to assess the damage.

Flood Forecast Improves, Coralville Lake No Longer Expected to Top Spillway (ABC)

The Army Corps of Engineers, which oversees the lake, is now forecasting the lake will crest at 711.5 feet above sea level on June 7. That’s down from 712.8 foot prediction made Saturday, and it is below the spillway, which is at 712 feet.

Receiving just a few hundredths of an inch of precipitation in the Iowa River basin on Saturday and dry forecasts for Sunday and Monday helped bring the lake forecast down, Neuzil said.

But the lake is still high – nearly 707 feet compared with the normal summer elevation of 683 feet – and it will be high for some time, officials said. They are expecting the flood threat to remain much of the summer, and another wet stretch like what was seen last week could send predictions soaring again.

Computer model help Iowa cities, public prepare for flood (The Gazette)

Since the historic 2008 floods, the Iowa Flood Center at the University of Iowa has developed a web-based model that creates flood inundation maps based on river conditions in the Iowa City area, Cedar Rapids and eight other towns in Iowa, with a few more coming soon.

It allows people to map out what-if scenarios at various river heights and flows.

That’s a tool local communities have used this week as wet weather has led to predictions Coralville Lake could reach its emergency spillway, threatening downstream communities with potentially significant flooding.

The Falling-Bridge Lesson: The U.S. Infrastructure Failure Is Still Totally Inexcusable (The Atlantic)

There are scolds who accurately point out that infrastructure rhetoric issomewhat famously hyperbolic. There are real-keepers who accurately point out that our share of bridges that are either “functionally obsolete” or “structurally deficient” has actually been declining over the last ten years. There are fiscal conservatives who accurately point out that we don’t spend much less on infrastructure than the rest of the developed world, including Europe.

My response is two-fold: (a) they’re all right; and (b) so is the argument that Washington should be spending more on infrastructure. America’s rebuilding needs aren’t going away. The basement-bargain price of rebuilding America is. Unfortunately, we might have to wait for a bridge collapse to inconvenience a member of Congress before infrastructure spending is rescued from austerity. Then, perhaps, we’ll finally take advantage of the best deal on the market.

China steps up flood preparations after storms

Torrential rains this month, sometimes accompanied by hail, had killed 55 people and left another 14 missing by May 17, according to the latest available official national toll from the ministry of civil affairs.
New storms struck nine provinces and municipalities across the country over the weekend, with the levels of some rivers exceeding danger lines, said the ministry of water resources.

Corps of Engineers concludes $10.3 billion, 98-mile-long Morganza to the Gulf levee is ‘economically justified’ (The Times-Picayune)

The design protects the area from damage by hurricane storm surges with a 1-percent chance of occurring every year, a so-called 100-year storm. The corps rejected a less-protective design that would have protected from damage caused by surges with a 3-percent chance of occurring every year, equivalent to a 35-year storm, saying it was not as cost-effective.

MTA plans to plug the subway

Plug the New York Subway (FloodList)

The solution basically consists of inserting huge inflatable plugs in the tunnels, hopefully to seal off the whole subway network and keep it water tight. The system was tested at the South Ferry station that had suffered so badly last October. The plugs are thought to be about 30 feet (about 10 metres) long.

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