Understanding flood risk at the community level
This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection
This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are
- Scientific Accuracy
- Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
- Pedagogic Effectiveness
- Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
- Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page
For more information about the peer review process itself, please see https://serc.carleton.edu/teachearth/activity_review.html.
This page first made public: Mar 25, 2014
This activity creates relevance of FEMA flood maps, flood and flood damage risks, for students, using the home community of the university.
The activity requires implementation and application of several skills areas:
- students must write about the map products using their own words, essentially translating the FEMA website language into a syntax they feel comfortable using to communicate,
- students must perceive past situations and circumstances and compare them to more recent ones, to understand the evolution of risk maps,
- students must do online searches for specific information and recognize when they have found the relevant product.
Risk is addressed in this exercise by showing students how local risks have been measured and assessed by federal agencies. By having the students compare risk maps over time, they develop an awareness that concepts of risk change with knowledge. They also gain a realization that floods can be prepared for and expected, improving community resilience. In a follow-up exercise, students examine how past floods have influenced town development, further highlighting the concept of community resilience and response to flood hazards.
Context for Use
Description and Teaching Materials
- Write a brief description about what each site provides (do not copy paste the description already provided; put it in your own words).
- Click on the choice: Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMS)/Flood Hazard Boundary Maps (FHBMs). Click on Historic FIRMS/FHBMs. Enter the choices needed to navigate you to our local town's maps (also need to know the County). Look at all of the maps by clicking on View (looks like a magnifying glass). Compare the maps for the 1970's, 1980's, 1990's and 2000's looking specifically at major roads, water sources (i.e. brooks and streams) that come and go on the various maps. Make a list of major features that have been inconsistently mapped over these intervals.
- Now go back to the first link and click on Effective FIRMS/FHBMs. Navigate once again to our town. View the most recent map and print out a copy. Draw on the map using dark black or red ink - outline the high risk floodplain (use the legend on the far right of each map to understand the codes).
- Compare the most recent map with previous maps. Write a half page summary of changes in policy/risk awareness/technology that you think contributed to differences in map detail.
- Read the attached papers on floods and be prepared to discuss them in class, using what you've learned about flood maps and risks. Geomorphology movie clips and descriptions (Microsoft Word 166kB Mar21 14)
Teaching Notes and Tips
References and Resources
- FEMA Product Catalog
- River Geomorphology Videos by Gough, S. 2007. River geomorphology videos. DVD. Little River Research & Design, Carbondale, IL; http://www.emriver.com
- Grand River Remeander Sequence (MP4 Video 3MB Jul27 17)
- Emriver channelization, large meanders, packed sediment (MP4 Video 27MB Jul27 17)
- Vertical view of inchannel mining and bar pit capture with graphics (MP4 Video 14.4MB Jul27 17)