This week, floodwaters of the Mississippi River crested, leading several counties in Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, and Wisconsin to declare states of emergency. Floodwaters have reached over 22 feet in Davenport Iowa, closing in on the 1993 record water level. Davenport is perhaps particularly hard hit because it is not equipped with concrete levees, as it relies heavily on its riverfront as a tourist attraction, and city residents feel that levees would create an unsightly barrier. Also, many hydrology experts will agree that levees might not be the wisest choice for flood management because they intensify the flooding downriver. This Week's In the News features Websites dealing with Mississippi River flood data, flood management, and general water resources.
Readers who wish to catch up on the situation should browse the first few news sites listed above. The first (1), coming straight from the flood frontlines, is from the Minneapolis Star Tribune giving general news about the Mississippi flood. The next two sites cover the situation in Davenport, IA and the controversy over constructing flood walls. The second site (2) is an article from the Los Angeles Times reviewing the controversy over building flood barriers in Davenport. It mentions how other Iowa towns built levees after the disastrous floods of 1965 while Davenport did not. The third site (3) is a special section of Davenport's Quad City Times entitled Flood 2001. Flood 2001 holds a small archive of recent articles about the flood from the Quad City Times along with other regional papers, hosts an online poll about installing levees, and provides video clips (RealPlayer) and still photos of the flood. It also gives shots from a "floodcam" poised along the banks of the Mississippi. The next few resources house hydrologic data. The US Geological Survey (USGS) posts real-time water data online (4). The plain-text data from all states can be accessed via a clickable map or from lists by state or by station. The National Weather Service's Quad Cities division (the "quad cities" of Davenport, Bettendorf, Moline, and Rock Island straddle the Mississippi River on the Illinois-Iowa border) provides graphs of flood stages of rivers and streams (selected using a clickable map) and real-time weather conditions, forecasts, and flood warnings online (5). Readers will probably encounter the term "100 Year Flood" while reading flood news and stage data. If you are unfamiliar with this term, which refers to the estimated probability that a flood event has a one-in-one hundred chance of occurrence in any given year, this site (7) from an environmental consulting firm gives a nice explanation of the term and its uses. Another educational site comes from the International Rivers Network. About Rivers and Dams (8), gives an overview of the function of dams (for flood control, power generation, water collection) and presents the environmental case against damming of rivers. Other sites related to the environmental impacts of flood control include Cadillac Desert (9), a supplement to the award-winning PBS documentary series on water and the control of nature, and the Powell Consortium (10), a network of research institutions dealing with water management in the arid American West. Another neat site from PBS Online is the supplement to the film "American Experience: Fatal Flood" (11), documenting the 1927 flooding of the Mississippi and its impacts on residents of Greenville, MS. The Fatal Flood site features video clips and interviews with survivors of the 1927 flood.