Assessing effectiveness of national flood policy through spatiotemporal monitoring of socioeconomic exposure
After a century of evolving flood policies, there has been a steady increase in flood losses, which has partly been driven by development in flood prone areas. National flood policy was revised in 1994 to focus on limiting and reducing the amount of development inside the 100-year floodplain, with the goal of decreasing flood losses, which can be measured and quantified in terms of population and property value inside the 100-year floodplain. Monitoring changes in these measurable indicators can inform where and how effective national floodplain management strategies have been. National flood policies are restricted to the spatial extent of the 100-year floodplain, thus there are no development regulations to protect against flooding adjacent to this boundary. No consistent monitoring has been undertaken to examine the effect of flood policy on development immediately outside the 100-year floodplain. We developed a standardized methodology, which leveraged national data to quantify changes in population and building tax value (exposure). We applied this approach to counties in North Carolina to assess (1) temporal changes, before and after the 1994 policy and (2) spatial changes, inside and adjacent to the 100-year floodplain. Temporal results indicate the Piedmont and Mountain Region had limited success at reducing exposure within the 100-year floodplain, while the Coastal Plain successfully reduced exposure. Spatially, there was a significant increase in exposure immediately outside the 100-year floodplain throughout North Carolina. The lack of consistent monitoring has resulted in the continuation of this unintended consequence, which could be a significant driver of increased flood losses as any flood even slightly higher than the 100-year floodplain will have a disproportionately large impact since development is outside the legal boundary of national flood policy. © 2008 American Water Resources Association.
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