Assessing Flooding and Hydrodynamics for Community Preparedness and Revitalization

City of De Soto, Missouri

Featured image for the project, Assessing Flooding and Hydrodynamics for Community Preparedness and Revitalization


Situated a little over 40 miles southwest of St. Louis, Missouri, the City of De Soto has experienced 4 major floods in the past 5 years.  Residents have witnessed Joachim Creek, a tributary to the Mississippi River, flood more frequency in 2012 after the city built a bridge over the creek and the Missouri Department of Transportation raised the road next to the bridge.  There are many artesian wells that empty into Joachim Creek and changes taking place in the surrounding subdivisions.  When it rains, Joachim becomes a flashy creek, causing houses and the main street of town to flood.  Since 2003, three lives were claimed in storms and the health, safety and welfare of both citizens and first responders put at risk.  Residents feel hopeless because they do not have the means or interest to relocate and few outside experts have offered to develop solutions to the flooding.  Past studies of Joachim Creek are outdated and of little use.

Citizens’ Committee for Flood Relief (CCFR) was established to work alongside city, county, state and federal government to implement solutions and adopt methodology to reduce the impact of flood damage, both structural and non-structural.  The flood group has a state representative who serves as an advocate for them.  CCFR has 10 active members with about 15 that attend their monthly meetings and a larger following on Facebook.  One of their major goals is to establish safety systems such as detectors that will be triggered at nearby firehouses as early warning systems.

This project has been conceived and designed in partnership with community leaders at CCFR and Flood Forum USA.


Notes from the Field: February 2019

We’ve heard project updates are the #1 thing you want from our newsletter. Starting this month, we’ll have links to Notes from the Field, where you get updates straight from the communities and scientists we work with. This month, updates from Flint, Michigan; Cambridge, Ohio; DeSoto, Missouri; and Cicero/Berwyn, Illinois.

A Dream for De Soto, MO

What is a “Catalyst for Change”?

All updates for this project

Project Team

Community Leads

Susan Liley is a Co-Founder of Citizens’ Committee for Flood Relief and is passionate about making a difference for her neighbors and the residents of De Soto.  She works hard to preserve the heritage of the city while encouraging others to incorporate flood resilience measures wherever possible.


Paula Arbuthnot is a Co-Founder of Citizens’ Committee for Flood Relief and an engineer in the City of De Soto.


Scientific Liaisons

Dr. Robert Jacobson is a Supervisory Research Hydrologist with 34 years experience as a research scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey.  He received his Ph.D. from the Whiting School of Engineering, The Johns Hopkins University, in 1986.  His research area is in riverine habitat dynamics with an emphasis on large-river ecosystems.  Dr. Jacobson is the Chief of the River Studies Branch, Columbia Environmental Research Center, Columbia, Missouri. He leads an interdisciplinary team of physical and biological research scientists engaged in studies to inform large-river restoration strategies, endangered species recovery, invasive species management, and urban stream assessments

Dr. Susannah Erwin is a Research Hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. Her research focuses on applied water resources, with an emphasis on physical processes to inform river management. Her areas of expertise include sediment transport, river engineering, ecohydrualics, design and monitoring in river restoration, and field methods in hydrology. Dr. Erwin received her Ph.D. in Watershed Sciences and M.E. in Civil Engineering from Utah State University.

Dr. Dan Hanes ( is a scientist, educator, and consultant whose expertise is at the nexus of water, particles, and people.  He has worked on topics related to coastal and fluvial erosion, sediment transport, flooding, sea level rise, environmental contamination, hydroacoustics, aquatic-safety, and granular flow.  He has worked in academics, government, and small business, and is currently a Professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Saint Louis University.

Dr. Amanda Cox is an Assistant Professor in the Civil Engineering Department at Saint Louis University (SLU).  Her areas of research include surface-water hydraulics, urban drainage, erosion and sedimentation, hydraulic structures, river engineering, stream restoration, and stormwater erosion.  Prior to joining SLU, she was a Research Scientist and Laboratory Manager at the Colorado State University (CSU) Hydraulics Laboratory where she completed numerous hydraulic modeling research projects.  Dr. Cox received her BS degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Missouri – Columbia, and she received her MS and PhD degree in Civil Engineering from CSU specializing in Hydraulic Engineering.

Collaborating Organization(s)

This project is part of one of TEXs’ new cohorts.  TEX has partnered with Flood Forum USA which supports grassroots flood groups across the country by helping them develop strategies for a sustainable future.  TEX is working with ten of their grassroots groups to connect them with scientists who can help them better characterize neighborhood-level flood risks and work effectively with local decision makers to mitigate those risks.

Flood Forum USA