Ahead of summer storms, Roanoke County offers up flood information with online app

ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ7) - On this day last year, neighborhoods throughout the valley were cleaning up after heavy flooding. It kicked off a record-breaking year for rainfall. But also got the ball rolling on technology meant to empower homeowners.

On May 28, 2018, folks in Cave Spring were bailing out their basements, tossing out soggy carpet and marveling at what the overnight deluge did to their neighborhoods.

"We live in the neighborhood," Becky Vaughan had told WDBJ7. "We've been here for more than 40 years, we've never seen anything like this."

In fact, according to Chief Meteorologist Brent Watts, last year the valley saw more than 150 days of rain. That brought a total of 62 inches of rain, nearly TWO FEET more than normal!

Just as residents were inundated with water, Roanoke County was inundated with phone calls.

"We were getting a lot of calls about flood information," said David Wray, GIS Manager for the county. "Is my house in the flood plain, do I have a flood certificate on my house?"

Wray spent a lot of time answering those calls. Then he had an idea to create an online app to help people easily find out if they were in a flood plain. They already had the data in house, so it took Wray's team less than a day to make.

"When we launched it because of the demand," he said, "we received over 4,000 hits within a week's time."

The award winning app is user friendly.

"And then the red dot is where the actual house is," he said, pointing to a graphic on his phone.

As we look ahead to the summer storm season, Wray said he hopes their work can instead flood Roanoke County with knowledge.

"We want to help people and empower them to make better decisions."

The Flood View, and other online apps, can be found at http://gis.roanokecountyva.gov/