Reducing the Human Impacts of Flash Floods: Development of Microdata and Causal Model to Inform Mitigation and Preparedness
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Flash floods hit with little lead time to warn the public and are of such velocity and force so as to make them one of the most lethal natural hazards (measured by the ratio of fatalities to people affected). The purpose of this project is to better understand why unsafe conditions exist during flash flood events, and how to reduce or eliminate these conditions. The premise is that problems are best solved by correcting their root causes, rather than reacting to their symptoms. Given the locality of flash floods, this approach to disaster research requires finer resolution data than currently exists, a gap this project fills. Such data are needed to understand the complete circumstances leading up to fatalities and injuries and to design effective structural and non-structural risk reduction measures. The new data and model principles created by this project can be used to identify effective structural and non-structural interventions for inclusion in hazard mitigation plans, emergency response plans, and capital improvement plans. This research will advance the scholarly momentum of an interdisciplinary team of investigators from civil engineering, geography, public health, and sociology to improve public safety and community resilience to flash flooding. Hence, the project supports NSF''s mission to promote the progress of science and to advance the nation''s health, prosperity, and welfare by reducing future fatalities from flash flooding. The goal of this research is to enhance public safety by creating the data and framework for modeling the causal pathways of flash flood fatalities and injuries to inform prevention. The research questions that guide the design of this study are: (1) What are the causal pathways to flash flood fatalities and injuries? and (2) How are communities in susceptible areas preparing for and mitigating against flash floods? The project uses a mixture of data types and research methods to address these questions. Using innovative web technologies, new fine-scale data will be obtained from structured and unstructured data sources on the web on each flash flood event and victim from the past 10 years. The new data will be made available in the public domain, while protecting the anonymity of individual persons and adhering to the terms of data usage set by the original sources. This award reflects NSF''s statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation''s intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.