Integrated Flood Response Program for Orange County, Indiana
The Indiana Silver Jackets Team has built a comprehensive flood risk reduction program in southern Indiana for Orange County (population 19,310). The US Geological Survey, Indiana DNR, and the USACE worked together with local officials on several activities that were necessary to develop and incorporate a program within the County.
Sharing Real-Time Flood Information
By bringing together several agencies, the Indiana Silver Jackets team was able to pair up technologies normally not used together to identify potential flood areas and when those areas would be impacted upon through the use of real time river gauge data. The pilot study successfully calibrated its model against actual river flow data for the White River in Indianapolis in 2008. Model outputs can be read in real time on a web-based system, and integrated with the HAZUS damage model, and GIS and local Property Valuation Administration (PVA) databases. The database integration allows local agencies to quickly determine where to focus flood fighting efforts and to provide reliable post-flood damage estimates. Real-time outputs gives citizens a tool to monitor flood progression and plan accordingly. The cost for setting up this system on a typical gauged stream is relatively low, on the order of less than $25K a stream mile. After a successful pilot, the team hopes to see the system expanded to cover as many as 20 other gauged stream locations within Indiana, subject to availability of funding.
Raising Flood Awareness with Children
The Indiana Silver Jackets team continued with prior year education efforts to reach out to children to educate them about flooding and severe weather and the measures they and their families can take to assure personal safety. This project involved a number of the team's member agencies in the distribution of the activity book materials and outreach to various groups specifically working with children throughout the State.
Communicating Flood Risk & Mitigation Planning
Following multiple flooding events in 2008 and 2009 in portions of Noble, LaGrange, and Elkhart counties, a task team including participating Silver Jackets team members compiled the "North Branch Elkhart River West Lakes Task Team Report" to assist local stakeholders with an understanding of the science controlling regional relationships between precipitation, geology, stream flow, lake levels, natural resources, and flooding; investigate possible non-structural and structural actions to reduce flood risks; and identify financial and planning resources available through Federal and State Agencies. Several member state agencies also participated in the update to the Indiana State Hazard Mitigation Plan, resulting in a more comprehensive and accurate mitigation plan.
Coordinating the Response to the 2008 Floods
The Indiana Silver Jackets group assumed the role of the Interagency Levee Task Force in Indiana following spring flooding in May and June 2008. Sharing time-critical information was one of the biggest benefits of the interagency coordination and cooperation, significantly speeding up and streamlining efforts. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) emailed the Corps' Louisville District regarding Emergency Watershed work (stream bank & debris removal) for central Indiana. USDA had not conducted any recent activities of this nature and their cost data was outdated. Within a couple of days Louisville District had worked up and supplied an updated price list. The Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) was looking for a listing or a map identifying which dams and levees in Indiana the Corps could support with repairs. Within a business day, a list of the projects had been supplied that would qualify for Corps aid, as well as those projects that would not qualify. The Indiana Silver Jackets also supplied IDHS with the list of those communities that had already contacted the Corps for help.
Developing Real Time Flood Inundation Model
Resolution of seemingly small issues can lead to greater collaboration. Team members were aware of differences between U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) data: differing boundaries used in the models produced flood elevation differences of up to two feet. The Silver Jackets team facilitated resolution, and within a short time, the data were aligned. The state sees this as a valuable service; when all agencies can agree on a single set of data, the state mitigation program benefits.
Outreach and Watershed Approach to Mitigation Planning
The North Branch Elkhart River Project evolved as the many participating agencies discussed a particular community's recurring efforts to resolve their flood risk management challenges. The community had sought studies and assistance from a number of individual state and federal agencies over many years, but none were coordinated, and little action followed.
Flood Warning Systems and Interagency Approach to Mitigation Planning
IIn Orange County, Indiana, the Lost River flows through a karst environment, often under the surface. Flooding occurs without warning. The Indiana Silver Jackets team has implemented an interagency approach and found a way to create a flood warning system. By linking a number of newly placed U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) stream gages with a USACE Planning Assistance to States Hydrology and Hydraulics study of the underlying karst features below the communities, the community will receive automatic triggers when the water reaches levels corresponding to previously-observed flooding.