Flooding the pages

BY JOSIE JONES | APRIL 01, 2010 7:30 AM

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Connie Mutel’s earliest memories are of plants. The historian and archivist of the UI’s IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering institute said she is much happier when in nature, and she depends on the natural world for her mental health.

Because she was in Switzerland when the 2008 floods hit eastern Iowa, she was devastated because she wasn’t able to witness something she studied all her life. In an effort to help others understand the events, she edited the book A Watershed Year: Anatomy of the Iowa Floods of 2008.

“I think whenever you have a chaotic event in your life, you try to put it into some context so you can get control of it and feel order,” the author said. “My response was to do that with words.”

Mutel, along with three fellow presenters, will discuss A Watershed Year at 2 p.m. Saturday in the Iowa City Public Library Meeting Room A, 123 S. Linn St. Admission is free.

The panel discussion will allow the four speakers to present material for 10 minutes each, followed by time for questions and deeper conversation.

Mutel will present an introduction to the book, and Witold Krajewski, the director of the Iowa Flood Center at the UI, will speak about the causes of the floods. Wayne Petersen, an urban conservationist at the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, will discuss urban hydrology, and John Castle, operations project manager at the Coralville Reservoir, will explain how the Coralville Reservoir workers managed the dam during the flooding. All four speakers contributed to the book.

After developing the idea of the collection, along with UI Press Director Holly Carver, Mutel approached professionals to write essays for the book.

A Watershed Year contains 25 essays, all of which were written by Iowans with the exception of one.

The book is divided into four sections — floods in general, the causes of floods, the effects of floods, and how to respond to floods.

While the collection focuses on the Iowa floods of 2008, Mutel said, the book is more about general flooding in the Corn Belt.

“Natural disasters happen, and people try to understand it but don’t know how to put it in any perspective,” she said. “If you educate people about the natural disasters, they can react proactively.”

The book, which was released on March 1, had a quick turnaround — being written and published within two years of the floods. Because of that, some additional information could still be added.

However, Mutel feels the book is nicely balanced with well-covered topics.

“[It] does not give the final answer to all the questions about the flooding,” she said. “There is still research going on to help us understand the 2008 floods.”

While Mutel has released a dozen books, A Watershed Year is her fourth work that the UI Press has published over the past 20 years. Carver, who has helped in the process of development on all four books, finds it an honor to work with Mutel.

“She’s very intense and very dedicated, and a perfectionist,” Carver said. “It makes for a really close relationship.”

Carver said she is always looking for ways to exploit Mutel’s abilities — both literary and scientifically.

“[Mutel] is such a superb communicator and researcher,” Carver said. “She’s really good at taking complicated material and rewriting it for [a wider audience]. She has a real gift for that.”

> Share your thoughts! Click here to write a Letter to the Editor.

comments powered by Disqus
Daily Iowan Advertising
Today's Display Ads | Today's Classifieds | Advertising Info

Follow the DI through:


Sponsored Links  
T-Shirt Design  
Insurance Leads Charlotte Web Design
Health Insurance Leads Home Equity Loans
Life Insurance  
Custom Magnets DMI Furniture
Solar Products Custom USB
At Home Weight Loss Buy a text ad


Privacy Policy (8/15/07) | Terms of Use (4/28/08) | Content Submission Agreement (8/23/07) | Copyright Compliance Policy (8/25/07) | RSS Terms of Use

Copyright © The Daily Iowan, All Rights Reserved.