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Flood Officials Hope To Learn From 2011

March 27, 2012, 5:59 PM by David Brown

Flood Officials Hope To Learn From 2011
September 2011

VERMILLION, SD -

As we get an early start on spring this year, flood officials are reviewing last year's devastation. A two-day conference at the University of South Dakota is trying to shed light on the Missouri River flood of 2011. It's an opportunity for attendees to learn and move forward.

Pictures may say a thousand words and there were plenty of listeners at the University of South Dakota.

"It puts the flood into context," Robert Swanson with the U.S. Geological Survey in Nebraska said. "It's interesting that there's different opinions and views from the upper part of the basin to the lower part of the basin."

Swanson says the kickoff to the two-day event was informational, providing reasons as to why the flooding happened and where the future lies in terms of emergency responses.

"In previous floods, even back in 1997, we didn't have a lot of the internet capabilities or know how to use social media involved with these events," Swanson said.

Even though this conference is a byproduct of last year's devastation, organizers say it's important not only to look at the extreme Missouri River flooding from 2011, but also look at the river in an average year.

"One of the things we talked about was what the averages looked like," Missouri River Institute executive director Tim Cowman said. "But also, what some of these extreme events looked like in the past."

Cowman says the mild winter means this year's snowpack is actually below average. And while that distinction is a sign that things will be better this year along the Mighty Mo, he believes education is the only way to be completely prepared.

"We need to learn from it on multiple levels," Cowman said. "We need to learn about what caused it and, in the future, what can we do to minimize impacts in a situation like this."

The conference concludes Wednesday on USD's campus. Attendance is free and open to the public starting at 8:30 a.m.

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