Luther College research looks at impacts of flooding on communities and how they can be more resilient

"Be connected with each other. Have a plan in your home," advises one professor.

Posted: Jul 16, 2019 10:55 PM
Updated: Jul 17, 2019 12:16 PM

DECORAH, Iowa - Freeport was one of the hardest-hit areas when the Upper Iowa River flooded in Decorah in August of 2016. Shortly after the flood, a research team at Luther College began interviewing people to learn more about the impacts a major flood has on a community. They presented their findings to the community on Tuesday night at Freeport Park.

"The impact of the flooding beyond just the flooding event. The fact that for example there are huge emotional and psychological impacts to flooding that people talked about after the flood event happening, even years later when it started to rain, they started having anxiety," Rachel Brummel, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies and Political Science at Luther College explains the research found there are profound emotional, social, and economic impacts on a community after a flood.

Debbie Aske was a part of the study. The basement wall of her home of 22 years knocked in when heavy rains hit in the middle of the night during the big flood. It wasn't until February of 2017 that the home was liveable again. "It's something you never wanna go through again, I can tell you that. It was very emotional for us anyway losing a lot of memories that you will never get back," she says.

The goal is to find ways communities can be more resilient in the wake of such a catastrophe.

"Be connected with each other. Have a plan in your home for what you're going to do when there's flooding. Also, be connected to the organizations and first responders in your community," advises Brummel.

"The community itself needs to know about where all of its neighbors are, have phone trees, different ways to communicate with itself," adds Craig Just, head of the Flood Resilience Team of the Iowa Watershed Approach.

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