Mid-Atlantic
via City of Norfolk

VA - How bad could flooding get at your house? Norfolk tool helps homeowners get the picture

NORFOLK — Wondering how waterlogged your house would be after a big storm?

Or maybe you’re thinking about buying or renting somewhere in Norfolk but can’t make heads or tails of the federal flooding maps and the different flood zones.

The city of Norfolk has just rolled out a new tool called the Flood Risk Learning Center that will show — visually show, not via arcane elevation charts — just how high the water will rise on most houses in the city.

It’s as simple as typing in an address and lining up a slider at ground level on a photo of the house.

Once you’ve done that, the program will superimpose floodwaters you could expect with a reasonably likely flood scenario.

City staff found when trying to communicate the risk of flooding to homeowners and renters, residents would become confused and overwhelmed after getting wrapped up in federal flood zone designations and the droves of information available.

“The impetus was first to deliver the message in a way that was digestible — flood depth,” said Matt Simons, a Norfolk city planner.

The tool doesn’t cover every property in Norfolk. Simons said larger footprints of commercial buildings or large apartment complexes made it more difficult to estimate a ground level, which is needed to make an accurate representation of flooding. So for now, the tool only deals with single-family homes, duplexes and triplexes. But it still covers more than 56,000 properties across the city.

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