Measuring the impact of mitigation activities on flood loss reduction at the parcel level: the case of the clear creek watershed on the upper Texas coast


As property damage from flooding continues to increase, particularly in coastal areas, the adoption of strategies to mitigate these losses has never been more important to protecting the health and safety of coastal communities. Both structural and non-structural flood mitigation activities are being considered to buffer the adverse consequences of building structures in areas exposed to flood risk. However, little research has been conducted on the effectiveness of flood mitigation practices, particularly non-structural approaches at the parcel level. Our study addresses this lack of critical knowledge by examining the effect of mitigation activities adopted under the FEMA community rating system on insured property losses across multiple communities within the Clear Creek watershed located just south of Houston, TX and adjacent to Galveston Bay. Specifically, we statistically identify the degree to which various mitigation strategies adopted by a community reduce flood loss claims among 9,555 parcels from 1999 to 2009. Results indicate that several mitigation policies adopted at the community level result in significant savings in property damage for homeowners in the Clear Creek watershed.

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Fig. 1
Fig. 2


  1. 1.

    The 100-year floodplain is the area with a 1 % chance in any given year that is subject to inundation.

  2. 2.

    The base flood elevation is the elevation to which water is predicted to rise during a 1 % flood event.

  3. 3.

    Because of the large unit changes in the X variables (i.e., mean CRS activity points), we employed the more formal e(b × x) − 1 approach to interpreting these coefficients from the log-level models (see Wooldridge, 2009).


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This paper is based on research supported by the National Science Foundation, Grant No. CMMI-1129998 and the Rice University SSPEED Center. The findings and opinions reported are those of the authors and are not necessarily endorsed by the funding organizations or those who provided assistance with various aspects of the study.

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Correspondence to Wesley E. Highfield.

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Highfield, W.E., Brody, S.D. & Blessing, R. Measuring the impact of mitigation activities on flood loss reduction at the parcel level: the case of the clear creek watershed on the upper Texas coast. Nat Hazards 74, 687–704 (2014).

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  • Community rating system
  • NFIP
  • Flood loss
  • Mitigation
  • Texas