Resilient Coastal Communities under Wind & Flood Hazards

About the Project

Project Summary

This project seeks to improve the resiliency of coastal communities by better understanding the trade-offs in single family residential (SFR) building design that is preferred for reduction of flood hazard exposure (via elevation) but, simultaneously, increasing exposure to wind-related hazards.  Because flooding caused so much damage during Sandy, the adaptive response has been to change zoning regulations and building codes to require, in certain locations, elevation of single-family homes above new higher flood levels.  For example, in Fairfield where flooding damaged thousands of homes, 48 single-family residences are now elevated with additional SFR elevations already in the planning stages.  While elevating homes minimizes flood risk, these newly elevated homes may now be at greater risk from exposure to damaging winds.

Complicating wind hazard exposures in Connecticut and other New England regions are SFR building designs which tend to be multiple stories high (e.g., typical colonial) with steeply sloping roofs.  These typical design elements exacerbate the potential risk from wind damage because building height and roof slope increase wind loads. And, while existing SFR homes must be elevated, no wind retrofit design elements are required to be installed during the elevation process.  The question coastal communities’ must consider is, do SFR elevation requirements without consideration of additional wind load exposure make their community more (or less) resilient?  This project aims to help coastal communities answer this question by exploring the tradeoffs between flood and wind risks.

To evaluate these trade-offs, damage assessment methodologies for coastal communities under wind and flood hazards will be built and applied to real-world residential buildings in Fairfield and Milford.  Deliverables include: 1) geographical information systems (GIS) based community resiliency maps for wind and flood hazards; 2) maps showing potential reductions in separate and multi-hazard vulnerabilities; 3) design parameters for new and retrofit SFR, such as recommended elevation height of low rise buildings to avoid flood hazard, building type or roof type and slope, etc.; and 4) educational materials on wind/flood hazard and recommendations to improve coastal community resiliency.

Product

Anticipated completion date: January 2019

Primary Funding

Connecticut Sea Grant Research Awards

Funding for this project is provided by the NOAA Regional Coastal Resilience Grants under the NOAA Office for Coastal Management.

Project Team

Storm Damage

“What We Do” Areas

This project is a part of the following topical areas:

Coastal Flooding & Waves

Policy and Planning