Emergency responders and residents living along Wildcat Creek in Manhattan, Kan., have a new tool to help them understand their risks during floods. A partnership of federal, state and local organizations collaborated to provide a comprehensive flood warning system that includes three new stream gauges and on-line access to local flood inundation maps.
NOAA’s National Weather Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Kansas City District, the U.S. Geological Survey Kansas Water Science Center, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Kansas Department of Agriculture-Division of Water Resources, the Kansas Division of Emergency Management, U.S. Army Garrison, Fort Riley, Riley County and the city of Manhattan collaborated to provide on-line access to detailed flood inundation maps for a reach of Wildcat Creek in Manhattan.
In addition, U.S. Geological Survey personnel installed a new flood forecast point stream gauge at Scenic Drive and an observation gauge at Seth Childs Road. The gauges provide on-site data collection points for the Wildcat Creek flood maps, which span from 3.5 miles upstream to 6 miles downstream of Scenic Drive. A third stream gauge was added on Wildcat Creek near Keats, Kan.
“The flood inundation map project for Wildcat Creek in Manhattan demonstrates the multi-agency commitment to identify specific flood impacts and help communities become more weather ready,” said Lynn Maximuk, director of the National Weather Service’s Central Region. “Now when the Topeka National Weather Service issues forecasts for the Wildcat Creek area at different flows and stages, residents and emergency responders will be able to open the map and see what those stages mean to them.”
"The stream gauges and National Weather Service flood prediction model and website have provided extremely-valuable tools for our emergency management officials,” said Chad Bunger, Planner for the city’s Community Development Board. “Using the static inundation map library, the folks at Riley County Emergency Management, Riley County Police Department and Manhattan Fire Department are now able to better plan for flood events. Using the map library, they are able to determine, foot by foot of flooding, which areas of town will be impacted, what properties will most likely need to be evacuated and which streets need to be closed."
This project was structured under the Corps’ Silver Jackets pilot program from 2011. Successful implementation is a proof of concept of the interagency agreement known as the Integrated Water Resources Science and Services, signed by officials of the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Weather Service and the Corps of Engineers. The Kansas Hazard Mitigation Team, led by the Division of Water Resources and the Kansas Department of Emergency Management were also participants.
“The city of Manhattan and Riley County have met monthly with the public since the flood of June 2011 as the Wildcat Creek Watershed Area Work Group,” said Brian Rast, Senior Planner and Senior Project Manager for the Corps of Engineers. “The group has six committees that focus on how to address flood hazards. The committee’s work will be summarized in a floodplain management plan, which will be eligible for credit in FEMA’s Community Rating System to reduce the costs of flood insurance for land owners along Wildcat Creek. The plan promotes a better understanding of the flood hazards, decisions made on flood risk management, public participation and provides a formal action plan on what will be done next and when.”
The Wildcat Creek map, the flood warning system and floodplain management plan are the result of months of planning, research and development accomplished through the Federal-state-local partnership. The base funding for the project was provided by the Corps of Engineers Silver Jackets program; however, the partner agencies all contributed their time, expertise and agency assets to develop the project.
Riley County and the city of Manhattan assembled flood impact data, and served as the local technical and public points contact for the project. A detailed floodplain model and topographic information were provided by the Kansas Department of Agriculture-Division of Water Resources. The detailed model and terrain data were originally funded under a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Technical expertise in developing the flood maps, as well as project management, was provided by the Corp of Engineers. Technical expertise in location, installation and maintenance of the stream gauges was provided by the U.S. Geological Survey. Riley County, the city of Manhattan and U.S. Army Garrison, Fort Riley, Kan., contributed funding for the ongoing maintenance of the stream-gauges. Assistance in developing the flood maps and flood forecasting service was provided by the National Weather Service.
The local inundation maps are available online at:
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On the Web:
NOAA’s National Weather Service: http://www.weather.gov
NOAA’s National Weather Service Topeka: http://www.crh.noaa.gov/top
NOAA’s National Weather Service Inundation: http://water.weather.gov/ahps/inundation.php
Multi-Agency Silver Jackets Project: http://www.nfrmp.us/state/index.cfm