Protecting Vulnerable Populations from Flood Hazards

Zoning Practice — September 2021

By Thomas Smith


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Hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities can be unsafe places during a major flood, storm surge, or hurricane. When the power goes out, ventilators, respirators, and dialysis machines don't work. In some cases, these facilities may not have back-up generators, and even where they do, these power sources can prove inadequate for the facility's power demands.

Recent disasters clearly illustrate how vulnerable certain critical and essential facilities can be to flood hazards. In many cases, these facilities are in terribly unsafe locations. In other cases, these facilities had taken little or no action to mitigate flood risks — simple things like elevating critical electrical systems or installing and elevating back-up generators.

This issue of Zoning Practice focuses on risk assessment, mitigation, and zoning recommendations for hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities. It explores how Boulder, Colorado; New York City; and several cities and counties in Florida have updated their land-use and development codes to protect vulnerable populations from coastal storms and flooding.


Page Count
Date Published
Sept. 1, 2021
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American Planning Association

About the Author

Thomas Smith