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UI to hold flood forum

BY KASSIE FRIEDRICHS | MARCH 10, 2009 7:27 AM

Some of the nation’s top natural-disaster experts will head to Iowa City this week, ready to help the UI community understand the science behind the summer’s flood.

The speakers — hailing from major universities, as well as state and federal agencies — will present at the “Living with Floods: From Science to Policy” symposium. Part of the Forkenbrock Series on Public Policy, the series will run today through Thursday.

“[The symposium will] enable a wide range of very smart researchers to exchange ideas pertaining to flooding for public discussion,” said James Throgmorton, a UI urban and regional planning professor.

Speakers will address the flooding, the psychological effect of displacement, flood mitigation, and flood-risk insurance, according to a UI news release.

The three-day event will kick off with a free public lecture at 7:30 p.m. today in the Seamans Center. Greg Baecher, a civil and environmental engineering professor at the University of Maryland, will read Gerald Galloway’s lecture “When will we ever learn? The challenge of dealing with frequent flooding.”

Galloway, a colleague of Baecher’s, wrote the lecture in response to 1993’s flooding. But Galloway cannot attend the symposium because of illness, according to the release.



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Iowa City Mayor Regenia Bailey said she expects the symposium to provide beneficial education for the Iowa City community.

She also said bringing in experts from other parts of the nation could be valuable.

“It might help to look at [the flood] from a different point of view as we move forward to recovery,” Bailey added.

Don Guckert, the UI associate vice president for Facilities Management, will take part in a four-person panel on Wednesday morning. His role on the panel is to speak about how the UI dealt with last summer’s flood, he said.

“That will help everyone understand the event better,” he said.

Throgmorton will give a speech titled “Collaborative Planning for Sustainability in the Iowa River Watershed” on Thursday afternoon.

“I want to draw attention to sustainability rather than flood mitigation,” he said.

Throgmorton will also speak about the Iowa River watershed, a 12,500-square-mile area.

Guckert said although citizens cannot prevent another flood, they can prepare for one.

“[The UI is] looking at ways to better prepare our buildings, better prepare our campus, against the type of risk we had last year with the flood,” Guckert said.

Throgmorton agreed, noting damage prevention is different than flooding prevention. When residences, offices, and buildings are damaged, there is an economic loss and personal trauma, he said.

“Otherwise, you have water getting high and dropping back down,” he said. “Big deal.”

Admission to the symposium is $25 for adults and $10 for students per day to take part in Wednesday and Thursdays events.


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