Efficient response during a flood event is critical. To this end, the Illinois Silver Jackets team developed an easy-to-use flood response “map book” for the Sid Simpson Levee District. The information and data visualizations collected in the book support decision-making by officials, facilitate communication, and improve interagency coordination for a more efficient flood response.
The book includes information such as flood impacts, datum conversion factors, as-built engineering drawings and river gage information, as well as interior drainage layouts, soil information, and a contact list for local officials. Maps of the entire drainage area show features such as levees, floodwalls, pump stations, and relief wells, as well as aerial photography, evacuation routes, emergency services, and locations of critical infrastructure. These disparate bits of information, when compiled into a single, easily accessible source like the map book, become a useful tool for prompt and accurate response to flooding situations.
Since the project began, it has raised awareness among community officials who are responsible for flood risk management, especially with those who represent communities at higher risk of flooding. Examples of this increased awareness included greater participation in a flood preparedness workshop and more public outreach efforts targeted at specific audiences. The map book was most recently used during the near-record Illinois River flood event in May 2019.
Another benefit of the map book project is that it has allowed for immediate analysis of field data by people who are not actually in the field. This provides decision makers, back at the office, an opportunity to respond in a more efficient manner to the needs of people in the field. For example, the book’s Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) imagery can help to identify low spots along the levee system. In this way, the project has helped to reduce flood damages and improve life safety.
Since developing the tool, federal and state agencies have been able to use the map book to improve communication and coordination. It has helped to identify and communicate flood hazards more quickly, which in turn has improved life safety. Sharing information with partner agencies helps communities to respond to and recover from floods more effectively and better prepare for future flood events.
Although this map book project was created specifically for the Beardstown, Illinois, area, and shared through the Illinois Silver Jackets team, it could be used as a template for other levee systems throughout the nation. For more information email: MVR.SilverJackets@usace.army.mil.