Pacific Sign

Officials postponed a request to contribute $5,000 toward the creation of a virtual flood inundation map for the Meramec River at Pacific.

Alderman Carol Johnson said she wants to know more about what the city would get for its money, and wants to know the total cost of the project before approving a contribution.

“I’m not saying no,” Johnson said. “I just want to know more.”

Pacific officials saw a preview of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Meramec River Flood Inundation Mapping (FIM) program Oct. 17.

Rick Huizinga, USGS engineer, staged a slide presentation and explained that the USGS is developing flood inundation mapping along the Meramec that is based on water level at the gauge.

“This is a new interactive online tool to improve flood warnings and emergency management,” Huizinga said.

Once it’s completed, anyone who has a computer will be able to view the FIM.

The project has created mapping for Meramec River floods in downriver stream cities such as Fenton and as far as Eureka, but has not yet been extended to Pacific.

Aldermen Steve Myers and Andy Nemeth had seen the presentation previously at an open house in Eureka and were keen for Pacific to be included in the mapping project.

The FIM is a new tool that will help emergency managers and local agencies make quick decisions about when and how to evacuate residents threatened by rising floodwaters.

The maps illustrate where flooding is occurring, as well as areas that will likely flood in the near future.

The flood-forecasting portion of the map is determined by using real-time USGS stream-gauge information and flood forecast information by the National Weather Service (NWS), Huizinga said.

Residents and businesses will have access to the online mapping, which will aid them in deciding when to evacuate or move critical equipment to higher ground.

Resident Jerry Eversmeyer questioned why the city would pay $5,000 for the mapping when National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) mapping is available at no cost.

“We can get all that information free on NOAA,” Eversmeyer said.

Huizinga noted that NOAA does provide predictions of flood elevations based on the river gauge but does not offer the real time pictures of the area showing the water as the FIM does.

Huizinga said he would work with program administrative/budget folks to satisfy Johnson’s concerns. He said he would get a sample agreement sent to Pacific.

He said the overall cost of the Meramec River Flood Inundation Mapping effort is about $318,000, which works out to about $63,000-65,000 per individual reach centered on each stream gauge (Pacific, Eureka, Valley Park, Fenton and Fenton to mouth).

Pacific is being asked to contribute to the stretch of the Meramec between Eureka and Pacific.

“The $5,000 being requested of the city of Pacific is only a small part of the $65,000 for the Pacific to Eureka reach and the overall Meramec River project, but will give the city a sense of buy-in for the project, and the opportunity to have a say in the review of the final maps for their reach,” Huizinga said.