The Unintended Consequences of Flood Mitigation along Inland Waterways – A Look at Resilience and Social Vulnerabilities

The objective of this proposed project is to evaluate different flood mitigation efforts in terms of the community costs of measures such as residential buyouts or elevation of structures. For years, home buyout programs have been promoted to remove individuals and their homes from risk of flooding by local practitioners and federal agencies. However, due to limited funds and criteria, this type of approach can often lead to a checkerboard effect in neighborhoods that have experienced flooding. When enough residents leave, the social fabric of the community can break down, the tax base for supporting schools and maintain infrastructure also leaves. In rural communities, this loss of community members can be significant, but elevating or relocating structures to maintain the community is often overlooked. In this study, the research team will utilize agent-based models and empirical data from select communities where significant buyouts have taken place to simulate and estimate the extent to which buyouts may actually negatively affect community resilience. The team will also examine the extent to which community size and ruralness may contribute to this phenomenon.