ST. PAUL, Minn. - The St. Paul District is leaning forward in preparation for potential spring flooding throughout the Upper Midwest this spring. The district declared a disaster Thursday, Feb. 20, said Phil White, St. Paul District emergency management chief.According to White, the National Weather Service forecast indicates at least a 50 percent chance of reaching major flood stage in the Red River of the North and the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers. With the potential for flooding becoming more likely, White said, it’s important to get our flood teams activated and out in the communities to assist local leaders preparing for the spring melt.That assistance can come in two forms – technical assistance anddirect assistance. White explained that technical assistance involves the district’s flood engineers working with communities to identify vulnerabilities and develop plans to reduce flood risks. Direct assistance can include providing flood fight materials such as sandbags, pumps andplastic to Corps contractors and building temporary emergency levees to protect critical public infrastructure. “We really look at it as being the last line of defense,” said White. “Once requested by a governor, we can come in and provide those key assets, such as temporary levee construction,that a local leader needs to reduce the flood risk.”New GadgetsThis year’s flood threat will be managed a little different than previous events. Following the 2019 flood threat, White said he became frustrated by the lag in real-time information. He said he was looking for a solution that provided the district the opportunity to view information, such as flood forecasts, river flows, elevations and field reports from Corps personnel in real-time. “The St. Paul District integrated technology into our management decision- making process that allowed the district’s leaders to efficiently and effectively get real-time information from the field, resulting in the district making much quicker and more informed decisions,” said White.Seeing this idea through to completion was a task for the geographicinformation system, or GIS, section. Kevin Hanson, St. Paul District geographer, developed the dashboard to meet White’s intent of being able to quickly identify areas of concern and then being able to develop solutions based on current, accurate information. Hanson and the rest of the GIS staff leveraged technology to allow Corps personnel the ability to quickly upload information and photos from the field via a mobile application. Further, this information can be seen from the district’s emergency operations center in St. Paul, Minnesota, with minimal delay. Under the previous information management system, it could take up to 12 hours to see that information. White added that the new system also allows district leaders the ability to identity where personnel are and then task them, based on location, to rapidly respond to a potential crisis.-30-