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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Update issued on IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering

Dear IIHR Advisory Board Members,

I would like to update you on the status of IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering and the massing flooding in Iowa and on the University of Iowa campus. Many parts of the state are experiencing unprecedented floods and widespread damage to roads and bridges, homes, businesses, and crops. The Cedar River and Iowa River recently crested many feet above their highest documented levels.

Our landmark building, the C. Maxwell Stanley Hydraulics Laboratory (SHL) located on the Iowa River was evacuated on Friday, June 13. At about noon, the building's exterior doors were chained and padlocked and power was turned off to the building. Soon after the evacuation, the SHL sub-basement flooded. Since then, IIHR staff have been manning pumps around the clock to remove water from the SHL sub-basement to prevent river water from entering the ship hydrodynamics tow tank or compromising the tow tank equipment. Pumps are also keeping the building transformer platform from flooding. So far, these efforts, in combination with all of the sandbags place by IIHR students and staff and local volunteers last week, have been successful. The towing tank equipment and the transformer remain dry.

I am pleased to report that the Iowa River crested in Iowa City on Sunday, June 15th - earlier and lower than expected. We will remain stationed by the building at the pumps for several days, perhaps even a couple weeks, until the river level drops significantly. I am optimistic that the critical towing tank and building transformer will be spared. IIHR's south campus buildings (East Annex, Model Annex, and Wind Tunnel Annex) are also flooded. We won't know the extent of the damage until we can re-enter them. Critical equipment in these building was placed well above anticipated flood levels too.

The support of the local community has been outstanding, but I am especially proud of the efforts by IIHR students and staff to sandbag critical parts of the building to help safeguard the facility. In addition, the full evacuation of personnel, computers, and essential research materials from SHL in just a few short hours was amazing. Our people exemplified the true spirit of the IIHR family.

Until the flood waters completely recede and SHL is safe to reoccupy, our colleagues in the main UI engineering building (Seamans Center for the Engineering Arts and Sciences) on the east side of the Iowa River graciously found office or desk space for all IIHR students, staff, and
faculty housed in SHL (about 100 people!). We will be able to continue most of our teaching and research activities there, but I look forward to the day when we all move back together into SHL.

Many other buildings on The University of Iowa campus are far worse than SHL. Especially hard hit was the arts campus (the visual and performing arts buildings such as Hancher Auditorium and the Museum of Art). The University of Iowa home page has more information about the damage on campus ( [Note: Also see the UI Flood Information blog here.] The IIHR web site ( ) has preliminary flood information, and will be updated as soon as we have full computer access again - hopefully by early next week.

I'll try to provide you with periodic updates in the coming weeks. In the mean time, please contact Carmen Langel ( or me ( if you have any concerns.

Best Regards, 
Larry J. Weber
Director, IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering