Flood Risk Assessment and Quantification at the Community and Property Level in the State of Iowa

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Enes Yildirim, Craig Just, Ibrahim Demir


Flood risk assessment contributes to identifying at-risk communities and supports mitigation decisions to maximize benefits from the investments. Large-scale risk assessments generate invaluable inputs for prioritizing regions for the distribution of limited resources. High-resolution flood maps and accurate parcel information are critical for flood risk analysis to generate reliable outcomes for planning, preparedness, and decision-making applications. Large-scale damage assessment studies in the United States often utilize the National Structure Inventory (NSI) or HAZUS default dataset, which results in inaccurate risk estimates due to the low geospatial accuracy of these datasets. On the other hand, some studies utilize higher resolution datasets, however they are limited to focus on small scales, for example, a city or a Hydrological United Code (HUC)-12 watershed. In this study, we collected extensive detailed flood maps and parcel datasets for many communities in Iowa to carry out a large-scale flood risk assessment. High-resolution flood maps and the most recent parcel information are collected to ensure the accuracy of risk products. The results indicate that the Eastern Iowa communities are prone to a higher risk of direct flood losses. Our model estimates nearly $10 million in average annualized losses, particularly in large communities in the study region. The study highlights that existing risk products based on FEMA's flood risk output underestimate the flood loss, specifically in highly populated urban communities such as Bettendorf, Cedar Falls, Davenport, Dubuque, and Waterloo. Additionally, we propose a flood risk score methodology for two spatial scales (e.g., HUC-12 watershed, property) to prioritize regions and properties for mitigation purposes. Lastly, the watershed-scale study results are shared through a web-based platform to inform the decision-makers and the public.




Civil and Environmental Engineering, Engineering, Risk Analysis


Risk Analysis, Flood Loss


Published: 2021-10-27 15:56

Last Updated: 2021-11-05 13:50

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CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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