Societal impacts from the historic flooding of August 2007 in the Upper Mississippi River Valley

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Thursday, 21 January 2010: 12:00 AM
B213 (GWCC)
Todd J. Shea, NOAA/NWSFO, La Crosse, WI

In August 2007, an historic and terrain changing flash flood occurred over parts of southeast Minnesota, extreme northeast Iowa, and southwest Wisconsin. Flash flooding and mudslides damaged thousands of homes, washed away roads and bridges, and in some cases flooded entire towns. Worst of all, eight people perished from flood waters. Damage costs easily exceeded 200 million dollars.

This presentation will provide an overview of the flood including the impact it had on victims, communities, and those agencies directly involved in public safety. Unique watershed details that enhanced flooding will be examined, as well as societal perspectives from actual flood victims and background information on flood-related fatalities. Behavior witnessed during these floods provides evidence that additional work is needed to educate people about the related dangers of flooding or different warning techniques are needed to provoke better public response.

A review of these impacts prompted a spectrum of possible outreach activities between the National Weather Service, the media, and local governing officials, with a goal of increasing overall flash flood awareness.