Louisiana’s Flood Risk and Resilience Data Viewer

As communities across the nation face increasing threats from coastal flooding and sea level rise, there is a great need to provide accurate information about current flood risk, how this risk may change over time, as well as possible solutions to increase resilience. However, the challenge has been how to effectively communicate what is often complex information in an easily digestible way to community members and leaders to provide them with the necessary information to plan for their future. Therefore, the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) developed an innovative “Flood Risk and Resilience Data Viewer” to help coastal Louisiana communities better understand their current day flood risk and how this risk will change 25 and 50 years into the future.

The Flood Risk and Resilience Data Viewer is a web-based, geospatial visualization tool that integrates and displays the results from CPRA’s 2012 Coastal Master Plan modeling effort which produced data about current and future changes in land loss, flood risk, and economic damages in coastal Louisiana. Other data displayed includes socio-economic vulnerability and impacts to facilities and infrastructure. In addition, projects recommended by the 2012 Coastal Master Plan (restoration, structural protection, and nonstructural protection) are included to provide communities with more information about strategies to increase community resilience.

CPRA worked in partnership with Shell and a working group of statewide and regional partners to gather input and feedback on the design and functionality of the Data Viewer to ensure its usability by stakeholders in the community. As a result, the Flood Risk and Resilience Data Viewer features interactive maps, including GIS data layers that can be turned on and off, and user friendly features that show how flood risk may impact communities both now and in the future. The Data Viewer was debuted at five “Community Conversation” meetings across the coast. The purpose of these meetings was to share information and generate discussion around flood risk in a less traditional and more informal way than a typical public meeting format allows. The Community Conversation meetings consisted of an open house period, a demonstration of the Data Viewer, and table top discussions over dinner that focused on storms and flooding vulnerability, options for protection, and other resources available to communities.

Based on the feedback received thus far, the Flood Risk and Resilience Data Viewer is a tool that is meeting a previously unmet need as a successful way to engage and inform community members and local leaders about the current and expected future changes their area will face in terms of land loss, flood risk, and economic damages. As modeling and additional data are developed for the 2017 Coastal Master Plan, the Data Viewer will be updated in order to continue to support state and local decision making by providing a centralized source for flood depth, damage, and socio-economic vulnerability data, as well as state recommended projects identified to help communities and decision-makers develop and implement locally appropriate resilience measures or hazard mitigation efforts.

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