Research & Studies

CONSORTIUM REPORTS & STUDIES  

The consortium's researchers are collaborating to compile, analyze, and share scientifically-informed data about flooding risk and mitigation opportunities. The consortium will be releasing reports and studies on an ongoing basis. This data will be posted in this section.

GHFMC Fact Sheet #1: What is a floodplain?

This fact sheet provides an overview of floodplains, clarifies a number of misconceptions (with specific Houston area examples), and provides additional informational resources.

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GHFMC Fact Sheet #2: How do we assess damages?

This fact sheet provides an overview of how damage is assessed (so as to identify the need for aid and funding as well as what specific projects are required to help mitigate future flooding) and provides additional informational resources relevant to those in the greater Houston area.

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GHFMC Fact Sheet #3: What is a Detention Basin?

Detention basins are a much-used strategy against flooding in Houston. Found in neighborhoods, parks, and open spaces throughout the city and surrounding counties - these basins vary in size and appearance, sometimes remaining almost completely unnoticed until a significant rain event. Review the kinds of basins used in the Houston area, how they work, and the role they play in flood mitigation. 

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GHFMC Fact Sheet #4: How are floodplains designated?

How would you know if you were in a floodplain?  Floodplains are not outlined according to visible boundaries we can see, but rather designated on maps by using an intricate combination of rainfall analysis and hydrologic and hydraulic modeling.  Floodplains can change over time as new development, erosion and other factors alter the landscape. Learn more about how floodplains are mapped and what that means to developers, land and property owners and insurance companies. (Updated: Dec-14-17)

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GHFMC Fact Sheet #5: How does rainfall drain away?

Although some rainfall evaporates or soaks into the ground, the vast majority of rain in the Houston area will eventually drain into Galveston Bay. The path can be complicated, however, and result in flooding. As Houston continues to grow, what are best practices for sustaining and funding its natural and man-made drainage systems (properly maintained, operated, updated)?

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GHFMC Fact Sheet #6: What is Storm Surge?

Although some rainfall evaporates or soaks into the ground, the vast majority of rain in the Houston area will eventually drain into Galveston Bay. The path can be complicated, however, and result in flooding. As Houston continues to grow, what are best practices for sustaining and funding its natural and man-made drainage systems (properly maintained, operated, updated)?

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GHFMC Fact Sheet #7: What is Resilience?

Houston and Houstonians have frequently been dubbed “resilient” in the days, weeks and months following Hurricane Harvey, but what could resilience mean as a working model for Gulf Coast communities?  Historically, when faced with a natural disaster, a system of response and recovery was put into place - residents would simply do their best to ride out an event and put the pieces back together once it had passed.  Instituting a model of resilience—accessing our vulnerabilities, working to communicate and mitigate risks, developing opportunities and adopting proactive policies and procedures—could put the region on a much better track for dealing with destructive events, whether natural or man-made. Read more in this fact sheet for more on what resilience could look like for our region and the ways it could improve our preparation for and response to a disaster.

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GHFMC Fact Sheet #8: Buyouts

With the increased frequency of disasters, some neighborhoods seem to have barely rebuilt before succumbing to another event, forcing homeowners to start over yet again on expensive and time-consuming repairs.  The cycle is frustrating and both emotionally and financially draining.  In these situations, buyout programs become a viable option - they remove families from dangerous situations and spare them the repeated rebuilding.  The land acquired by the buyout then becomes available for green space, or even as a location for other flood mitigation tactics, such as detention, thereby possibly reducing flooding in other nearby areas.  The process and eligibility parameters for buyout programs can be lengthy and complicated, but in some situations, they may well be the most appropriate and ultimately beneficial solution.  Learn more about the ins and outs of which situations call for buyouts, which governmental agencies are involved and how they are facilitated.

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GHFMC Fact Sheet #9: What are the Environmental Impacts of Flooding?

The visual images of a flood are undeniably powerful - rivers and bayous rushing beyond their banks, water lapping at rooftops of two-story homes and the mountains of debris left behind. There are other impacts from flooding that are equally powerful - even if we don’t always see them in such obvious ways. Environmental impacts of flooding can have serious, lasting consequences which may take weeks or months to take effect. Water quality may be the most obvious impact - flood water is polluted water, sucking up all matter of debris, pollutants, and sediment along its way.  Maybe less visible, but no less detrimental, is the effect on air quality and energy supply. Learn more about flooding’s effect on the environment, as well as some key guidelines for cleaning up after a flood. 

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GHFMC Briefing Document #1: Flood Warning Systems

A more technologically advanced, real-time, and targeted Flood Alert System (FAS) developed by the SSPEED center could be updated and built with real-time models for all 22 watersheds across Harris County to quickly allocate emergency services and personnel as well as prevent flood damages, according to the Greater Houston Flood Mitigation Consortium.

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GHFMC Briefing Document #2: How do Addicks & Barker Reservoirs work?

The Addicks Dam/Reservoir and Barker Dam/Reservoir are two federal control projects located in western Harris County that are designed to store water during large rainfalls to reduce downstream flooding along Houston's Buffalo Bayou. Could new regional flood management policies and regulations help maximize funding improvements and impact to help mitigate damage from future flooding?

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GHFMC Briefing Document #3: Flood Regulations

As we continue to evaluate lessons learned from Harvey, both Houston and Harris County are reviewing current floodplain regulations to determine how to best protect the health and safety of residents going forward. Flood regulations impact the way homes and neighborhoods are constructed, how flood insurance rates are determined, and the direction of recovery and rebuilding efforts when a flood event has passed. How are the respective jurisdictions regulating and enforcing development, and how do those regulations apply to communities that participate in the National Flood Insurance Program? To answer these questions and learn more about flood regulations, The Greater Houston Flood Mitigation Consortium has published a comprehensive briefing document, complete with the county by county charts of requirement details. 

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ADDITIONAL REPORTS, STUDIES, AND HELPFUL LINKS

Kinder Institute for Urban Research: Case Studies in Floodplain Buyouts

Looking to best practices to drive the conversation in the Houston region.

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Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy and Rice | Kinder Institute for Urban Research: Living with Houston Flooding

To be a truly world class is to admit and then address weaknesses. Unequal information is a form of discrimination that is simply unacceptable. This report addresses that deficiency by informing Houstonians (and helping them understand) about flooding risks and learning to live with them.

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HARC: Summarizing Hurricane Harvey's Environmental Impacts

The Houston-Galveston Region receives on average 45 inches of rainfall each year. During Harvey, some areas received more than 50 inches of rain in less than one week.

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Kinder Institute for Urban Research, Rice University: Hurricane Harvey Story

Hurricane Harvey by the numbers: an interactive story map.

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Rice University SPEED Center: Tropical Storm Harvey Summary Report #1

The devastation caused by Hurricane / Tropical Storm Harvey to Houston lies not in wind damage nor storm surge, but in the record-smashing rainfall that deluged the entire city and Harris and surrounding counties.

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Rice University SPEED Center: Flood Alert System, FAS4

A Flood Alert System FAS4 provides for real-time local flood communication. Learn about who uses this system to deliver information to emergency managers.

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Texas A&M Corpus Christi: Restored Oyster Reef Holds Post-Harvey Lessons for Island University Researchers

Restoration projects in the Coastal Bend got their ultimate test when Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Central Texas coast as a Category 4 storm last month. Scientists and students are now hoping that lessons learned from what survived Harvey’s winds and surge can be applied to future restoration as we face the possibility of more frequent and intense storms.

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Texas A&M Galveston: Coastal Atlas, Bay Atlas, Status and Trends, Runoff Calculator

The Coastal Atlas is a detailed and comprehensive web-based program providing information for anyone wanting to know more about the Texas coast. Presently, the coastal atlas is the most comprehensive online, interactive database ever compiled about the Texas coast. The Bay Atlas provides a closer look at Galveston Bay.

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Texas A&M Galveston: Buyers BeWhere

This tool offers a way to see the risk potential for a hurricane, flood, wildfire, and air pollution in Harris and Galveston counties.

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University of Houston: Community Design Resource Center – Islands

The Islands project generates a guide for change in our four partner communities―Alief, Bellfort,  Greenspoint, and Mid-West―as well as pointing to potential strategies and tactics in communities across the country that are facing similar challenges.

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University of Houston: Community Design Resource Center – Corridors

The Corridors pilot program created a guide for change in our four partner communities―Greater Heights, Greater Third Ward, Harrisburg, and Independence Heights―as well as pointing to potential strategies and tactics in communities across the country that are facing similar challenges.

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Houston Advanced Research Center: Analysis of the Hurricane Ike Storm Surge and Waves

The purpose of this project was to conduct data collection, analysis, and modeling for a study of the storm surge and wave impacts on land in Harris County around Galveston Bay due to Hurricane Ike in 2008 and effective ways to use breakwater islands to mitigate the effects. Analyzing the impact of Hurricane Ike represented an opportunity to isolate the effects of storm surge and wave action and develop policy options related to the creation of systems for enhancement of coastal resilience.

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Houston Advanced Research Center: Galveston Bay Report Card

HARC and the Galveston Bay Foundation are pleased to provide citizens with the third 2017 Galveston Bay Report Card, released August 9. The Report Card features critical information on the health of Galveston Bay, one of the most important and productive bays in the country.

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