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Mississippi Mayors Showcase New Disaster Prediction Data Portal

Mayors from cities and towns along the Mississippi River joined the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in a press conference in St. Louis, Mo., to unveil a newly assembled disaster prediction data portal developed in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Commerce. Representatives from the USGS were on hand to demonstrate and discuss the portal’s capabilities.

The 2019 Midwest flood season was the longest and largest in recorded history, implicating the entire 31-state Mississippi River basin. The flooding has inundated communities and compromised infrastructure on and below the surface at levels not seen before. From damaged infrastructure to emergency response, mayors have been incurring significant expenses, with some placing estimated losses above $2 billion for the Mississippi River valley alone.

In response, local mayors and community leaders clamored for resources, data and approaches that work at corridor scale.

As part of the partnership with the Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative (MRCTI)—an association comprised of 90 mayors of communities on the Mississippi River from Minnesota to Louisiana—the USGS has developed an innovative portal to provide a one-stop shop for MRCTI mayors to visualize current and potential flood impacts. Mayors can see satellite images before and after flooding, obtain the latest weather forecasts and warnings, see comprehensive water levels from stream gages and examine flood inundation models to see where impacts may occur. The U.S. Drought Monitor, a partnership of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Nebraska, has also been included to provide drought prediction and impact information.

“Alton [Ill.] just missed the 1993 level of flooding this year,” said Mayor Brant Walker, “but the inundation was around for a record amount of time and we’re detecting new impacts and levels of damage not experienced before. We have a lot of infrastructure that was part of this flood, and we need to make sure we don’t miss anything. This portal can help us.”

Lyda Krewson, mayor of St. Louis, who spoke at the press conference, said, “Comprehensive data that is easily accessible is essential to our efforts to prepare for, respond and recover from disaster impacts to our region.”

For more information, visit www.mrcti.org.

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