Ames after 2010 flood: recovery and prevention

Ben Theobald

It has been a year since massive rainfall and storms between June and August of 2010 caused flooding throughout Ames, amounting about $42 million in repairs, cleanup, and restoration.

Bob Kindred, assistant city manager, is working with Iowa State and Story County to pull together a joint plan for how to lessen the impact of future floods.

“We want to identify what is happening weather-wise to have a better idea of what flooding may be coming at us,” Kindred said. “That’s because there seems to be more and more intense rainfall events.”

An engineering firm will be hired to help reevaluate and study the flood plain and help determine what else might be done to mitigate or lessen the impact of river flooding in the future.

“The results to that study, which will take at least a year from now to complete, will help us determine if there are other major projects we should do to try to mitigate flooding,” Kindred said. “It will also tell us if we should readjust some of the regulations that affect what people are allowed to do on the flood plains.”

Warren Madden, vice president of business and finance at Iowa State, recalls the number of areas that had some sort of damage caused by the weather.

“We started with about 129 different places that had some kind of damage associated with the weather,” Madden said. “It went from a tree that needed to be cut down to a million dollars’ worth of damage.”

The three buildings that were the most significantly damaged were Hilton Coliseum, Scheman, and the Lied Recreation Athletic Center. The buildings were flooded, causing massive damage.

Though for the past year much work has been done on recovering from the effects of the damage that has been done.

“We have been cleaning all that up and substantially a year later which is kind of where we are now we have restored and repaired almost all of the damage,” Madden said. “There are still a few mitigation things that need to be done for the future such as being able to keep water from entering buildings.”

The massive damage done to Hilton Coliseum and Scheman has been mostly restored.

“Hilton and Scheman were probably the most significantly damaged facilities and cost the most to repair,” Madden said. “In Hilton, we ended up with a whole new basketball court, replaced the lower seats, and storage areas have all been redone.”

In Scheman, the work that had to be done resulted in moving the offices from the first floor to the second and converting the offices on the first floors to meeting areas. There was also work done on making the building more flood proof.

“We have reconfigured that and reinforced the walls, so in the future the designs that have been implemented would keep water from being able to get into the building,” Madden said.

One of the challenges with the damage that was done in the Lied Recreation Athletic Center was the water that got into the building came through the ground beneath the floor.

“One of the things engineers are trying to figure out is how they can design a system down there that would reduce water pressure on the floor, and that’s more complicated than just building barriers around the outside of the building,” Madden said.

Engineers have also come up with a design system that can keep water from entering the doors.

“We have a reinforced structure on the outside of the doors, so water pressure won’t cause those to collapse,” Madden said.”

The main goal of the mitigation was to keep Hilton, Scheman, and the Lied Recreation Athletic Center at their standard locations.

“One of the ways to mitigate in case of another flood in the future is to build a new building someplace else,” Madden said. “That wasn’t either economically feasible or necessary. We’ve elected to keep Hilton, Scheman, and Lied where they are and try to keep the water out in the future.”