FORT WAYNE – Fort Wayne residents along the St. Marys River will have access to some of the same maps and data used by emergency planners when it comes to flooding.
National Weather Service and U.S. Geological Survey officials on Thursday announced new online mapping abilities that let the public see where floodwaters are expected to go when the river reaches certain levels. Because the same Web page shows river level forecasts, residents can easily see where the water will rise to.
This stuff is absolutely awesome, said Rod Renkenberger, executive director of the Maumee River Basin Commission, the regional flood agency. Its taking information we used to try to convey through text or verbally and showing it to you visually.
The map, which can be found at tinyurl.com/JGfloodmap, can show either a drawn map or a satellite image, and shows the rivers reach at levels from 12 feet to 22 feet. Flood stage on the St. Marys is 14 feet; the record depth, set in 2003, is 21.2 feet.
What makes the map so powerful is the ability for residents to see what the forecasted depth is and then instantly see what that will mean to their home or property, Renkenberger said.
Its one thing to look at current conditions, he said. Its another to see youre going to have 5 foot of water in two days.
Kim Stier, the citys flood control coordinator, said the maps give residents access to tools that previously had been the province of emergency officials.
Information is power, Stier said. It takes the fear away, because they know whats coming.
Michael Sabones, chief meteorologist for the National Weather Service Northern Indiana, said agencies are working on creating similar maps for Spy Run Creek and for the St. Marys River in Decatur.