Midland County to use new data to predict flood patterns

MIDLAND (WJRT) - (03/08/18) - Midland County will soon be using new elevation data as county leaders prepare for future flooding.

Midland County IT/GIS Director Chris Cantrell said last June's flooding was the tipping point to get the LIDAR data from the state, gathered from an airplane. It sends pulses of lasers to the

"That allows us through mitigation to say, 'okay we know we need to close these roads when the water hits 24 feet or 26 feet or 28 feet. We'll know where we need to do that across the county. And that way we can prepare in advance for the next flood that's going to happen," Cantrell said.

Cantrell said the information can be used by the road commission, drain commissioner and emergency management.

The county has wanted the tool for eight years, but when they first started looking at it cost $180,000.

Now it costs just under $14,000, with the county paying around $4,000 after sharing the cost with the road commission and city.

Cantrell said you might be surprised how land changes over time and can impact what locations will flood. New roads, new buildings and other things can impact where water will end up.

This new set of information will give county leaders a more accurate, instant picture of what's going on.

"If we had to do this back in 1986 you'd have surveyors and months and months of work, between surveyors and engineers to get the information that we can now get in the blink of an eye," Cantrell said.

The GIS Department has some preliminary data now, and should have the rest later next month.

Bryan Gillett