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The Iowa Flood of 2008: Putting the Disaster Response Plan to the Test
IFLA World Library and Information Congress 2012
  • Paul A Soderdahl, University of Iowa
Document Type
Peer Reviewed
Publication Date
Conference Location
Helsinki, Finland
Total Pages
12 pages

In the summer of 2008, the rivers in eastern Iowa rose to historic levels, prompting a major evacuation and shutdown of the University of Iowa campus and resulting in nearly $750 million in damage, particularly to the buildings that housed the fine and performing arts. The art library reopened in late 2011, and the music library will be in temporary quarters for several more years. Though the main library received only minor flooding in the basement, the building was closed for several weeks even while campus reopened and classes resumed.

The library's data center, located in the main library, needed to be relocated during the evacuation. Fortunately, the library's disaster response plan was updated just four months earlier and ready to be put to the test. This paper presentation will discuss which elements of the plan were most helpful as well as lessons learned. Two important gaps in the plan were the need to identify a communications point person who could be isolated from operational responsibilities and the need to adapt to members of the disaster response team needing to leave in the middle of implementation. In particular, as the waters rose, staff members who lived on the west side of the river had to go home before the last bridge closed, and we had never anticipated choosing disaster response team personnel based on whether or not they had to cross a bridge to get home. The paper will conclude with a status update on moving to hosted servers and decommissioning the library's data center.

Copyright © 2012 Paul Soderdahl
Citation Information
Paul A Soderdahl. "The Iowa Flood of 2008: Putting the Disaster Response Plan to the Test" IFLA World Library and Information Congress 2012 (2012)
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