Completed February 2018.

Funding: Argosy Foundation.

One of the main goals of this Argosy Foundation funded research was to understand how socioeconomic conditions and social vulnerability could be included in local flood risk management and planning in urban areas. ASFPM, through its No Adverse Impact initiative, advocates for comprehensive flood risk planning and management, which includes quantifying or understanding the costs related to “direct losses” (i.e. property losses to buildings and their contents) and “indirect losses” (i.e. job losses, business closures, social impacts and public health). The latter includes socioeconomic components and social vulnerability.

FSC conducted research and analysis focused on modeling the social and economic costs for flood-risk reduction in urban areas. Social vulnerability indices were developed for Milwaukee County, Wisconsin and integrated with Hazus flood-damage estimates to move toward a more holistic approach of understanding all costs (direct and indirect) of flooding in a community. The results show a need for more complete urban flood mapping (i.e. moving beyond riverine only H&H models to include 2D models) and also show a need to better understand and include flood hazard specific indicators (e.g. % of population with flood insurance) within the demographic characteristics utilized in social vulnerability indices.

This project gave FSC an understanding of the current state of socioeconomic and social vulnerability research allowing us to start asking more questions and think about what specific social and population characteristics are directly related to flood risk management or community planning such as capital improvement planning. Technical questions and takeaways include, developing a better understanding of the flood specific vulnerability indicators that should be included in a flood vulnerability index – for example, should the percent of households without flood insurance be included as an indicator? And, what scale and/or resolution should the data and models be used for?

The results from the Argosy funded project were written up as a final report titled “Social Vulnerability and Urban Flood Risk” and have been used to inform social impacts research in a separate FSC project titled “Building Coastal Resilience through Capital Improvements Planning: Guidance for Practitioners”. The social impacts research related to the CIP project will be available in late 2019 through the CIP project webpage.

Social Vulnerability and Urban Flood Risk