Semester of Graduation

August 2021

Degree

Master of Civil Engineering (MCE)

Department

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

Efforts directed at determining community vulnerability to flooding are limited and only include economic (dollar damages) and public safety impacts and do not consider the phase dependency of the system, i.e., pre-, during- and post-storm, both critical shortcomings for more broadly assessing community risk and developing comprehensive plans and mitigation strategies. This thesis first develops a framework based on a Flood-Vulnerability Index (FVI) approach and then demonstrates its usefulness, at the census tract level of detail, for three parishes in the Greater Baton Rouge, LA area, based on the August 2016 flood. FVI’s indicators are multidimensional and phase dependent: “Pre-Flood” Susceptibility Indicator (FSIPF); “During-Flood” Exposure Indicator (FEIDI); and “Post-Flood” Adaptive Capacity Indicator (FACIPF). The social and economic component of FSI, and FACI, were both computed using well-being variables developed as part of the Inland from the Coast (IFC) project (Moles, A., Birch, T., Chan, et al., 2020). FSIep was created using the Flood Hazard Index (FHI) methodology developed by Kazakis et al., (2015); which serves to identify flood prone zones based on the community’s hydrological, morphological and land-use, land-cover (LULC) characteristics. FEI was developed utilizing a structure inventory, included in Dewberry’s Amite River Basin Numerical model, and direct economic loss shapefiles, produced for HEC-FIA (Flood Impact Analysis) model. These two shapefiles were spatially joined using only matching attributes between the two shapefiles, which plans to represent the exposed elements of risk.

Results from this work showed two primary trends. First, the shift from high pre-storm FVI values, indicating greater levels of susceptibility, in the East Baton Rouge Parish census tracts to high during-storm FVI values, indicating larger levels of exposure, in Livingston and Ascension Parishes that were inundated by floodwaters from the Amite and Comite Rivers. Furthermore, going from during-flood to during-recovery phase FVI, the number of highly vulnerable census tract areas increased within Ascension Parish and Livingston Parish along the southern end of the Amite River Basin. Given the severity and extent of the August 2016 event, this is not unexpected, but does highlight the ability of this approach to capture the spatial and temporal aspects of community vulnerability. In addition, while this demonstration used only a single event, future work could utilize this framework with probabilistic storm events to develop Flood Risk Indices. Finally, the framework allows for a very comprehensive and wide-ranging set of data types and sources, scaling and weighting techniques, and data aggregation methods. While the methodology and results in this work are limited by the availability of datasets and certain assumptions for scaling and weighting, the framework provides opportunities to identify data gaps and incorporation of more rigorous and meaningful statistics.

Committee Chair

Willson, Clinton S.

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