2020 Project Report

Iowa’s small community of Vinton (population 5,093) is located in Benton County and is within the HUC-8 Middle Cedar River Watershed. Vinton has a history of repetitive flooding that has created economic and social hardship. The flood events Vinton experienced in 2008 and 2016 were part of Major Disaster Declaration FEMA-1763-DR and Major Disaster Declaration FEMA-4289-DR.

Vinton was selected to be included in the Iowa Watershed Approach’s Flood Resilience Program, which recognizes that social resources are often absent or minimally evident when it comes to flood resiliency. The program strives to improve the use of social resources in watersheds by connecting local partners and stakeholders, enhancing the presence of social resources in watershed planning efforts, and increasing the awareness and communication about established and novel flood resilience initiatives.

The Flood Resilience Program Team collaborated with Iowa Valley Resource Conservation & Development (RC&D) to conduct community engagement, facilitate public conversations, and analyze collected stories and information related to flooding, with a focus on low-to-moderate income residents who had been impacted by flooding from the Cedar River. This effort was executed between October 2018 and October 2019, with the majority of engagement taking place in June and July. Iowa Valley RC&D conducted community and key informant interviews, doorstep interviews, phone interviews, website outreach, and held three in-person community conversations.

This project was featured on Iowa Public Radio’s River to River Program.

Listen to our team member Paul Schmitt.



This community engagement effort for flood resiliency in Vinton, Iowa was completed by Iowa Valley RC&D with funding provided by the Iowa Watershed Approach. This effort was successful because of support from the residents of Vinton, the Iowa Flood Center, The University of Iowa Flood Resilience Program Team, City of Vinton, Benton County Emergency Management, Benton County Disaster Recovery Coalition, JEO Consulting Group, Inc., Benton County Board of Supervisors, Hawkeye Area Community Action Program (HACAP), Iowa State University Extension (Benton County), the Vinton-Shellsburg Community School District, Virginia Gay Hospital, Vinton Public Library, Vinton Unlimited, Benton County Mental Health/Disability Services, Benton County Service Center, Vinton Municipal Electric Utility, the Middle Cedar River Watershed Coordinator, and local business leaders.


City of Vinton

Founded in 1849, the City of Vinton, Iowa is the county seat for Benton County. Residents and community leaders are key partners in creating the vision and action steps for the flood resilience plan.

Iowa Watershed Approach

The Iowa Watershed Approach (IWA) is a vision for Iowa’s future that voluntarily engages stakeholders throughout the watershed to achieve common goals, while moving toward a more resilient state. The goals of the IWA include the following:
  • Reduction of flood risk;
  • Improvement in water quality;
  • Increased resilience;
  • Engagement of stakeholders through collaboration, outreach, and education;
  • Improved quality of life and health for Iowans; and
  • Development of a replicable program.

Iowa Flood Center

The Iowa Flood Center (IFC) at the University of Iowa is working to provide Iowans with accurate, scientific information to help individuals and communities better understand their flood risk.

Iowa Valley Resource Conservation & Development

The Iowa Valley RC&D team works to grow local economies, strengthen food systems, foster protection and enhancement of natural resources, and develop awareness for the arts, history, and culture. We facilitate partner collaboration, solve problems at a system level, and leverage resources to get more done.