Appropriate Technology for Flood Warnings

by Mark E. Nelson, (M.ASCE), HYdr. Engr.; Hydrology and Meteorology Section, Omaha District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha, NE,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1992, Vol. 62, Issue 6, Pg. 64-66

Document Type: Feature article


Computers can help protect cities and other developed areas by enhancing flood warning systems, but smaller communities may not be able to take advantage of their sophistication. The Corps of Engineers has solved this problem by developing more workable systems for semi-rural areas. Computers have revolutionized flood warning technology in the past decade, giving us sophisticated systems that combine remote rain gage and river stage instruments with powerful software run on base station micros. These systems have saved lives and property throughout the U.S. and abroad, but not all installations have been successful. Sold by enthusiasts to flood-weary townspeople, some of the electronic systems have been placed in areas where there is neither budget nor staff to operate them properly. Emerson, Iowa, a farming community of 500 people, was one such area. Following a 1982 flood, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Omaha District built a levee and a state-of-the-art flood warning system that included a base station with microcomputer and pager system, two combination rain and stage measuring gages and one rain gage.

Subject Headings: Floods | Disaster warning systems

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