North Carolina Emergency Management has been selected by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate to help deploy and test three prototype, low-cost flood sensors designed to help bring early flood detection and warning to more communities at a reasonable cost. Boone will be among the locations where the devices will be installed.
Beginning in mid-August, NCEM will deploy a total of 75 early warning flood sensors. These prototype sensors have been designed and constructed by three different companies. Each sensor, depending on configuration, is expected to cost less than $1,000 – which is significantly less expensive than most of the 578 flood gauges that are currently part of North Carolina’s Flood Inundation Mapping and Alert Network (FIMAN).
“These new sensors hold great potential because their lower cost makes it more affordable for state and local governments to provide early flood warning to their communities,” said NC Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry. “We look forward to working with DHS to test these devices and learn more about their capabilities and how they can supplement the existing gauges in our FIMAN system.”
Locally there are five locations where the gauges will be installed, Watauga County Emergency Management Coordinator Taylor Marsh tells WataugaOnline.com. These locations include ASU, Boone Mall area, Leola Street area, and two locations on Winklers Creek.
Marsh says that at each of these locations, a bridge or culvert will be chosen and 3 different gauges will be installed at each location. “These gauges will be a mix use of Radar, Ultrasonic, or Pressure transducer measurement sensors. These locations are subject to change for various reasons which could include access to the bridges or culverts, construction, no cell phone signal, etc. I will be working with NCEM to determine when the gauges will be installed and if the locations will remain the same or if they will change.” Marsh added.
Employees from NCEM’s Risk Management section will begin installing the devices, first in Winston-Salem, then in Goldsboro, Lumberton and then in Boone. The sensors will remain in place for a period of six months while they are evaluated. More information on the DHS Low-Cost Flood Inundation Sensor program and the three devices being tested is available on this fact sheet.