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Online tool updated with new features to help Texans during flooding

For immediate release. Contact: Lauren Munguia at 512-463-2322

AUSTIN – (September 8, 2021) – An interactive online tool that can help Texans prepare and respond to flooding events has ­newly added capabilities to help inform state and local flood management decisions that can help protect life and property. Emergency managers and the public across Texas now have access to near real-time information on statewide reservoir and traffic conditions at one convenient location to help assess flood risks and identify evacuation routes as a flooding event is occurring.

In addition to the newly added statewide road and reservoir information, the web-based tool, known as the Flood Decision Support Toolbox (FDST), also provides maps and information about the possible extent and depth of flooding at select locations near some U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) streamgages and can be used to conduct flood risk assessments and damage analyses. The FDST also lets users see estimated economic impacts of flood events on homes and communities near monitoring sites. The web tool will continue to be updated as more information becomes available to support advanced planning and real-time flood response efforts in the state.

“We are continually adding more sites to the FDST and our development team estimates statewide coverage by the end of 2024, thanks in part to an extensive collaborative state and federal campaign to develop models throughout Texas,” said Tim Raines, director of the USGS Oklahoma-Texas Water Science Center. 

The USGS, Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the National Weather Service teamed up to form the Interagency Flood Risk Management (InFRM) team in 2014 to integrate and leverage the agencies’ expertise and resources. The InFRM team provides flood information and resources to local communities to help reduce long term flood risks in Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.

The InFRM team released the FDST in 2019, then in 2020 partnered with the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) to bring enhanced features to the site’s Texas maps. The tool uses a network of USGS streamgages coupled with flood inundation models to display various flood scenarios at select areas throughout Texas. By adding building damage datasets developed and maintained by the TWDB, users can visualize historic flood events or forecast future flooding events to better understand and prepare for flood risks.

“The TWDB is pleased to continue partnering on this important flood resource for Texans,” said Jeff Walker, TWDB executive administrator. “This scenario-based tool and one-stop shop for flood risk information is made even more robust with the recent addition of reservoir level data and the economic estimate features.” 

To access the tool, visit https://webapps.usgs.gov/infrm/fdst/?region=tx.

About the TWDB

The TWDB is the state agency charged with collecting and disseminating water-related data, assisting with regional water and flood planning, and preparing the state water and flood plans. The TWDB administers cost-effective financial assistance programs for the construction of water supply, wastewater treatment, flood control, and agricultural water conservation projects.

About the USGS

The U.S. Geological Survey is the federal government’s premier earth science agency with a mission to monitor, analyze, and predict current and evolving dynamics of complex human and natural Earth-system interactions and to deliver actionable intelligence at scales and timeframes relevant to decision makers. The USGS provides science about the natural hazards that threaten lives, livelihoods and property; the water, energy, minerals, and other natural resources we rely on; the health of our ecosystems and environment; and the impacts of climate and land-use change. 

Road conditions across Texas can be found by clicking “Layers,” then selecting “Weather and Road Conditions” and setting the slider to “on.” A map of a modeled area of flood inundation and nearby road closure can be seen in this image. USGS image.

Reservoir conditions across Texas can be found under “Observation Stations.” A color-coded status of lake/reservoir conditions is displayed and an explanation of the colors is available in the legend. A map of current reservoir conditions for a lake and a modeled flood inundation area from a nearby stream are shown in this image. USGS image.

Updated flood damage estimate reports - with maps, graphs, and data - can be viewed, downloaded, and printed from the tool. These reports are related to selected inundation levels at specific sites across the state where inundation map libraries are currently available. To access flood damage estimate reports, first click a river station of interest on the Texas map. This will open the flood map library and the current conditions for that station. Turn on the “buildings” slider and then select a “Simulated River Stage” level from the Flood Map Library. USGS image.