Flood Response and the Value of GIS in Decision Making


On April 18, 2013, a series of severe thunderstorms resulted in a
significant flood event for much of Chicagoland. Thirty-eight counties
were declared disaster areas by the state because of the significant
damage that occurred. Communities along the Des Plaines River, including
Lincolnshire, were hard-hit by rapidly rising water that took more than
one week to recede back to normal levels. The Village activated its
Emergency Operations Center that morning to organize its response.

GIS played an important role throughout this event. First, resident
calls and field crew observations were mapped with different symbols to
represent the flood-related problem so that incident command could
visualize where the hot spots were. This map was posted in the Emergency
Operations Center as well as updated in real time through a custom
overlay in MapOffice™ Advanced. This constant flow of data supported
decision making so that response crews and resources were used wisely
and efficiently.

Once the river crested, GIS was used to visualize the extent of the
flooding. Using existing contour line data, the on-site specialist
estimated the path of the high-water line along the Des Plaines River.
This area was used to generate a list of affected addresses, which a
Village inspector used as a basis for collecting damage reports. This
data will also be provided to Lake County to support its request for
federal support. In the future, if the Village faces a similar flood
event, the high-water line can be reused to estimate the impact before
it actually happens and take steps to protect property and people before
the water rushes in.