Flood Damage Data

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Flood Damage in the United States, 1926-2003
A Reanalysis of National Weather Service Estimates

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  1. How can I learn more?

    Examples Using the Reanalyzed NWS Damage Estimates:

    • Flood policy. Flood-related presidential disaster declarations are examined in relationship to flood damage, precipitation, and political factors in Downton, M.W. and Pielke, R.A. Jr. (2001), Discretion without accountability: Politics, flood damage, and climate, Natural Hazards Review, 2(4), 157-166.
    • Climate and damaging floods. NWS damage estimates are used to examine the relationship of national and regional flood damage with several measures of precipitation in Pielke, R.A. Jr. and Downton, M.W. (2000), Precipitation and damaging floods: Trends in the United States, 1932-1997, Journal of Climate, 13(20), 3625-3637.

    Sources of Additional Flood Damage Information:

    • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), www.fema.gov, provides information about flood damage in presidentially declared disasters and keeps records of disaster assistance expenditures.
    • Federal agencies (e.g. USACE, FEMA, NOAA, USGS) sometimes prepare post-flood reports after severe flood events. Reports by USACE district offices are particularly likely to include damage estimates and descriptions of earlier floods in the community.
    • State emergency management agencies compile flood damage information in presidentially declared disasters. A few states have compiled more detailed or longer-term damage records (see www.vdes.state.va.us/links/states.cfm).
    • Newspaper archives may be the best source of historical information on flood damage in many communities.

    Recommendations for Damage Databases:

    Two expert panels have called for development of national databases to record losses from past and current disasters, including floods. For their recommendations, see:

    • National Research Council, 1999. The Impacts of Natural Disasters: A Framework for Loss Estimation. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
    • H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics, and the Environment, 2000. The Hidden Costs of Coastal Hazards: Implications for Risk Assessment and Mitigation. Washington, DC: Island Press.

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