Hazards Planning Research Center

Floodplain Management

Flooding is the leading cause of disaster damages in the U.S., and the most frequent source of presidential disaster declarations. It also is the focus of one of the earliest national programs addressing hazards, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The NFIP now covers more than 20,000 communities nationwide through a program that provides insurance while requiring participating communities to meet federal standards for floodplain management.

In spite of these efforts, flooding remains a major issue and poses a serious challenge for planners. In large part, this is because we have continued to allow new development in vulnerable areas or in ways that compromise the integrity of watersheds and increase runoff into streams and rivers. More comprehensive efforts are necessary to address the problem adequately.

It is the philosophy of the Hazards Planning Research Center that floodplain management should not be handled in isolation from the broad planning framework of the community but should be an integral consideration within an integrated all-hazards approach within the comprehensive planning process. This was the Center's approach in its work on PAS Report No. 560, Integrating Hazard Mitigation into Local Planning. Funded by FEMA, this project examined best practices in how communities integrate hazard mitigation into all aspects of the planning process, including land use in and near floodplains.

The Hazards Planning Research Center also participated in the development of a One-Day Planners Training Service workshop, "Planning Flood-Resilient Communities," to provide direct, hands-on training for planners on best practices in floodplain management and hazard mitigation planning.