Developing and Maintaining Intra- and Inter-Agency Partnerships Can Help Agencies Understand Contacts, Available Resources, and Various Data and Tools Needed to Support Prediction and Response Efforts During a Flood Event.

The Iowa, Missouri, and Nebraska Departments of Transportation Highlighted Lessons Learned from Experiences in Managing Major Flood Events in the Missouri River Basin.

Date Posted

Weather-Responsive Management Strategies (WRMS) for Flood Management in Iowa, Missouri, and Nebraska

Summary Information

The Weather-Responsive Management Strategies (WRMS) initiative of the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Every Day Counts - Round 5 (EDC-5) program promotes the use of road weather data from mobile and connected vehicle (CV) technologies to support traffic and maintenance management strategies during inclement weather. WRMS can mitigate the impact of flooding events through preparation and prediction efforts that leverage and build data, tools, and relationships. This case study highlights experiences and lessons learned from the Iowa, Missouri, and Nebraska DOTs while managing major flood events in the Missouri River Basin, which typically experiences some annual flooding in the spring and had significant flood events in 2011 and 2019 that caused major prolonged impacts and road closures.

Supporting resources to enable WRMS include:

  • River Gauge Data – National Weather Service (NWS) river gauge and hydrograph data
  • Hydrologic Modeling – Models to forecast and analyze the stages and velocities of water flows
  • LiDAR (light detection and ranging) Mapping – Accurate elevation map to enable modeling of water pooling over large areas
  • Data Repositories – Collection of related databases such as road survey and bridge data to incorporate into modeling and analysis of weather event impacts
  • Barrier systems – A variety of sandbag and barrier systems are available from vendors to protect identified areas

The following recommendations were highlighted in the source document.

  • Data and models can be useful to predict and prepare for flood events, especially when exceptional conditions occur, and historical experience is no longer applied. Useful data and tools suggested by the case studies include: River Gauge Data, Hydrologic Modeling, LiDAR Mapping, Data Repositories and Sandbag and Barrier Systems.
  • Establishing collaborative intra- and inter-agency partnerships is important during a major flood event. State DOT personnel can coordinate and work with staff from a variety of agencies, departments, and other partners including the United States Army Corp of Engineers (USACE), railroad companies, commercial motor carriers, hydrology and hydraulic staff, and HazMat teams. Experience with previous emergency events provide a basis for understanding points of contact for assistance as different questions and issues arise. The State DOT maintenance groups can be extremely short-staffed during a major flood event because they are busy helping others as approved by emergency operations. 
  • Understanding the challenges of inspecting the repair needs when roadways are closed and inaccessible is crucial, as well as assessing the economic impact of closures for justifying investments, faster response, and preparations for future flood events.