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USA - Uncertainties Key to Balancing Flood Risk and Cost in Elevating Houses

What do you have on your 2020 Bingo Card? Wildfire, heat wave, global pandemic, or flooding? If it's flooding, then it's a good bet it will happen in many places in the U.S. sometime during the year.

People who live in areas designated as river flood zones often seek to raise their homes. Now a team of Penn State researchers suggests that considering uncertainties can improve decisions.

"Many houses located along rivers in Pennsylvania are in danger of being flooded," said Klaus Keller, professor of geosciences. "Some houses are elevated high, some to intermediate levels, and some not at all. Why is this?"

People in river flood zones are looking for good strategies on how high to elevate their houses. The Federal Emergency Management Agency -- FEMA -- recommends elevating houses to the height of a flood that has a 1% chance to occur in a given year, also known as the 100-year flood, plus at least one foot. This is the minimum elevation for which federal funding may be available. The researchers investigated if they might improve on this suggested elevation given uncertainties surrounding, for example, future flooding, the future value of money and the vulnerability of a house to flooding. They reported their results today (Oct. 26) in Nature Communications.

Read more.

Read also Neglecting uncertainties biases house-elevation decisions to manage riverine flood risks, Mahkameh Zarekarizi et al., Oct. 26, 2020