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New Interactive Flood Warning Tool Developed for Big Creek

November 10, 2015
A new interactive Flood Inundation Map to improve flood warnings and assist with emergency management along Big Creek in Alpharetta and Roswell, Georgia, was debuted during a ceremony today in Alpharetta’s Rock Mill Park.

A new interactive Flood Inundation Map to improve flood warnings and assist with emergency management along Big Creek in Alpharetta and Roswell, Georgia, was debuted during a ceremony today in Alpharetta’s Rock Mill Park.

The new online and interactive flood preparedness tool is the fifth developed in Georgia through collaboration between the U.S Geological Survey and the National Weather Service. These tools allows residents and emergency managers to see the expected impacts of flooding in the area based on forecast water levels, enabling them to take action before the flooding occurs.

Congressman Tom Price and Alpharetta Mayor David Bell Isle were among the participants in the ceremony.

“It is encouraging to see the coordination and teamwork among federal, county and city governmental agencies,” said Congressman Price. “The U.S. Geological Survey, the National Weather Service, the Cities of Roswell and Alpharetta have worked extremely well together in order to provide preparedness tools that will benefit the entire region for decades to come.”

USGS and NWS officials also addressed the importance of the collaboration, as well as the strategic location of developing this tool for the Big Creek area.

“This new flood preparedness tool highlights how these agencies and local officials are working together toward creating more resilient communities, providing better flood preparedness and responses to flooding,” said Bill Werkheiser, USGS Associate Director for Water, who traveled to the ceremony from the agency’s headquarters in Reston, Virginia.

“Flooding is a real danger on the Big Creek; it’s one of the first creeks to flood when heavy rain occurs in the Atlanta metro area,” said Kent Frantz, Senior Service Hydrologist with the National Weather Service forecast office in Peachtree City. Frantz calls the Flood Inundation Map tool “the first line of defense that ties in the forecast to real-time water levels that show the Big Creek rising to a home’s doorstep.” 

Georgia residents have been impacted by many flood events in the past, with the Atlanta area seeing some historic floods as recently as 2009.  These and other floods have highlighted the importance of preparation before an event occurs.

In addition to the Big Creek Flood Inundation Map, the agencies have also developed Flood Inundation Maps for the Flint River at Albany, Sweetwater Creek near Austell, Peachtree Creek at Atlanta, and Suwanee Creek at Suwanee.

The initial work conducted by the USGS, NWS, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Georgia Emergency Management Agency, and Georgia Department of Natural Resources at Georgia Tech to map the 1994 Alberto Flood provided a critical framework and foundation for modeling the Flood Inundation Mapping program.

The Flood Inundation Mapping product is an interactive web-based tool that shows the extent and depth of floodwaters over given land areas.  These maps enable management officials and residents to see where the potential threat of floodwaters is the highest. Other monitoring tools that provide flood information include streamgages, which provide real time data via satellites to the USGS and NWS for many purposes, including water supply, drought monitoring and flood warnings. Relative to real time streamgage readings, the Flood Inundation Maps illustrate where floodwaters are expected to travel based on NWS flood forecasts.

Real time stream flow data is also used for other new flood preparedness tools such as the USGS WaterAlert, WaterNow, and RiverCam. These new tools can verify streamgage readings at remote locations, and can text or email subscribers when a critical threshold is reached. Local residents can stay informed and safe with accurate, up to date information. Brian McCallum, Associate Director for Data from the Norcross, Georgia office of the USGS South Atlantic Water Science Center adds, “The new Flood Inundation Map product, combined with WaterAlert and RiverCam, will allow citizens to make informed decisions during severe floods.”

Together these new tools provide critical information to emergency management officials enabling greater flood preparedness.  In addition, the Flood Inundation Map tool will facilitate more detailed forecasts of impacts and will enable emergency personnel from FEMA, state agencies, and local agencies to make quick decisions about when and how to evacuate residents threatened by rising floodwaters.

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