Policy learning for flood mitigation: a longitudinal assessment of the community rating system in Florida. Academic Article uri icon


  • Floods continue to inflict the most damage upon human communities among all natural hazards in the United States. Because localized flooding tends to be spatially repetitive over time, local decisionmakers often have an opportunity to learn from previous events and make proactive policy adjustments to reduce the adverse effects of a subsequent storm. Despite the importance of understanding the degree to which local jurisdictions learn from flood risks and under what circumstances, little if any empirical, longitudinal research has been conducted along these lines. This article addresses the research gap by examining the change in local flood mitigation policies in Florida from 1999 to 2005. We track 18 different mitigation activities organized into four series of activities under the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Community Rating System (CRS) for every local jurisdiction in Florida participating in the FEMA program on a yearly time step. We then identify the major factors contributing to policy changes based on CRS scores over the seven-year study period. Using multivariate statistical models to analyze both natural and social science data, we isolate the effects of several variables categorized into the following groups: hydrologic conditions, flood disaster history, socioeconomic and human capital controls. Results indicate that local jurisdictions do in fact learn from histories of flood risk and this process is expedited under specific conditions.

published proceedings

  • Risk Anal

altmetric score

  • 6

author list (cited authors)

  • Brody, S. D., Zahran, S., Highfield, W. E., Bernhardt, S. P., & Vedlitz, A.

citation count

  • 83

complete list of authors

  • Brody, Samuel D||Zahran, Sammy||Highfield, Wesley E||Bernhardt, Sarah P||Vedlitz, Arnold

publication date

  • June 2009