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

Abstract

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.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

Notes

  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).

References

  1. Alexander D (1993) Natural disasters. Chapman & Hall, New York

    Google Scholar 

  2. Beatley T (2009) Planning for coastal resilience: best practices for calamitous times. Island Press, Washington, DC

    Google Scholar 

  3. Birkland TA, Burby RJ, Conrad D, Cortner H, Michener WK (2003) River ecology and flood hazard mitigation. Nat Hazards Rev 4:46–54

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Blake ES, Landsea CW, Gibney EJ, Asheville NCDC (2011) The deadliest, costliest, and most intense United States tropical cyclones from 1851 to 2010 (and other frequently requested hurricane facts). NOAA/National Weather Service, National Centers for Environmental Prediction, National Hurricane Center. http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/pdf/nws-nhc-6.pdf. Accessed 23 September 2013

  5. Brody SD, Highfield W (2013) Open space protection and flood losses: a national study. Land Use Policy 32:89–95

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Brody SD, Zahran S, Maghelal P, Grover H, Highfield W (2007) The rising costs of floods: examining the impact of planning and development decisions on property damage in Florida. J Am Plann Assoc 73:330–345

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Brody SD, Zahran S, Highfield WE, Grover H, Vedlitz A (2008) Identifying the impact of the built environment on flood damage in Texas. Disasters 32:1–18

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Brody SD, Highfield WE, Kang JE (2011) Rising waters: causes and consequences of flooding in the United States. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK

    Google Scholar 

  9. Federal Emergency Management Agency (2012) Community rating system fact sheet. http://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/9998. Accessed 23 Sept 2013

  10. Federal Emergency Management Agency (2013) National Flood Insurance Program Community Rating System Coordinator’s Manual. FIA-15/2013. FEMA. https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/8768?id=2434 Accessed 23 Sept 2013

  11. Freitag B, Bolton S, Westerlund F, Clark J (2009) Floodplain management: a new approach for a new era. Island Press, Washington, DC

    Google Scholar 

  12. Grigg N, Doesken N, Frick D, Grimm M, Hilmes M, McKee T, Oltjenbruns K (1999) Fort Collins flood 1997: comprehensive view of an extreme event. J Water Res Pl-ASCE 125:255–262

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Highfield and Brody (2013) Evaluating the effectiveness of local mitigation activities in reducing flood losses. Nat Hazards Rev 14:229–236

  14. King RO (2011) National Flood Insurance Program: Background, Challenges, and Financial Status. UNT Digital Library, Washington, DC. http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc40078/. Accessed 23 Sept 2013

  15. Larson L, Pasencia D (2001) No adverse impact: new direction in floodplain management policy. Nat Hazards Rev 2:167–181

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Michel-Kerjan E, Kousky C (2010) Come rain or shine: evidence on flood insurance purchases in Florida. J Risk Insur 77:369–397

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Olshansky RB, Kartez JD (1998) Managing land use to build resilience, In: Burby RJ (ed) Cooperating with nature: confronting natural hazards with land use planning for sustainable communities. Joseph Henry Press, Washington, DC, pp 167–201

  18. Paton D, Johnston DM (2006) Disaster resilience: an integrated approach. Charles C Thomas Publisher, Springfield, IL

  19. Stein J, Moreno P, Conrad D, Ellis S (2000) Troubled waters: congress, the corps of engineers, and wasteful water projects. Taxpayers for Common Sense and National Wildlife Federation, Washington, DC

    Google Scholar 

  20. Thampapillai DJ, Musgrave WF (1985) Flood damage mitigation: a review of structural and nonstructural measures and alternative decision frameworks. Water Resour Res 21(4):411–424

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) (2009) Flood risk management: value to the nation. http://www.iwr.usace.army.mil/Portals/70/docs/VTN/VTNFloodRiskMgmtBro_loresprd.pdf. Accessed 23 Sept 2013

  22. Whipple W (1998) Water resources: a new era for coordination. ASCE Press, Reston, VA

    Google Scholar 

  23. Wooldridge JM (2009) Introductory econometrics: a modern approach. South-Western Cengage Learning, Mason, OH

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

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.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Wesley E. Highfield.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

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). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-014-1209-1

Download citation

Keywords

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