Iowa won $96.8 million, and the Iowa Flood Center will be receiving a portion of the sums.
The funds come from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development through the National Disaster Resilience Competition. The money was awarded in late January, said Breanna Shea, the outreach coordinator for Iowa Flood Center.
The center will get a portion of this money because of its heavy participation. Witold Krajewski, the director of the Flood Center, said other agencies and partners joined them for the competition because of their experience with the 2008 flood.
“The fact that the center even existed and demonstrated the value of our work to the people was what got us the grant,” Krajewski said. “We’ve improved the monitoring of streams within the state, made maps of which areas could be inundated, and created models for housing communities. They could tell that we were serious and determined, we had established a lot of credibility.”
The center and their partners came in second behind Texas, which got disqualified for not following the regulations Krajewski said.
“I’m very happy that we got the grant,” said Joe Bolkom, outreach and community education director of the center. “I am not very familiar with the details of how we got it, however.”
Shea said center’s goal is to use the money to assess and protect Iowa from floods, focus on the safety of the water in Iowa, and establish an Iowa Watershed Alliance.
“Locally, the Iowa Watershed Alliance will work in the Clear Creek and English River watersheds,” Shea said. “As the grant has been awarded, we will begin organizing kick-off meetings in each watershed involved in the project that will invite any and all interested stakeholders to participate in discussions about the Iowa Watershed Alliance.”
Krajewski said Flood Center’s first step in using the grant money will be to establish the Watershed Alliance — a concept in which people who care about a particular watershed will be responsible for that watershed with help from the center.
After that, Krajewski said he and his team would focus on larger projects.
“The big idea is to improve the resilience of our land communities against these natural disasters, like flooding,” he said. “We will be proposing changes to land use with things like farm ponds and establishing wetlands, then we will monitor these projects based on analyses of data and watching whether or not these projects are effective.”
People at the center eagerly anticipate the changes in the community that will come from receiving the grant.
“We are very happy to have this opportunity to continue to help the people of Iowa. Our projects have brought solutions, but along with these solutions have come questions and challenges,” Krajewski said. “It’s kind of the perfect situation for us professors involved, to be able to provide concreate support to Iowa but also continue our research and defeat those challenges and solve those questions.”