Can fine resolution urban flood models increase spatial awareness of flood risk? Results of a household survey in Newport Beach, California

Brett F. Sanders

Tuesday 30 june 2015

17:30 - 17:45h at South America (level 0)

Themes: (ST) Flood risk assessment, (T) Flood risk management and adaptation

Parallel session: 7J. Floodrisk - Assessment

Coastal communities around the world face significant and growing flood risks that require an accelerating adaptation response, and fine-resolution urban flood models could serve a pivotal role in enabling communities to meet this need. Such models depict impacts at the level of individual buildings and land parcels - the same spatial scale at which individuals are best able to process flood risk information - constituting a powerful tool to help communities build better understandings of flood vulnerabilities and identify cost-effective interventions. To measure understanding of flood risk within a community and the potential impact of fine-resolution models, we carried out a household survey of flood risk awareness in Newport Beach, California, a highly urbanized coastal lowland that presently experiences nuisance flooding from high tides, waves and rainfall and is expected to experience a significant increase in flood frequency and intensity with climate change. Interviews were completed with the aid of a wireless-enabled tablet device that respondents could use to identify areas they understood to be at risk of flooding and to view either a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood map or a more detailed map prepared with a hydrodynamic urban coastal flood model (UCI map) built with grid cells as fine as 3 m resolution and validated with historical flood data. Results indicate differences in the effectiveness of the UCI and FEMA maps at communicating the spatial distribution of flood risk, gender differences in how the maps affect flood understanding, and spatial biases in the perception of flood vulnerabilities.