USF’s ‘Flood Hub’ is helping the state look into resiliency needs
Resilience in the face of increasingly extreme weather is on the minds this week of those attending the annual Gulf of Mexico Alliance Conference in Tampa. And much of the work on resiliency will be done at the University of South Florida.
Many of us have heard the warnings about coastal flooding increasing because of strengthening storms and hurricanes. But before work can be done to address resilience in the face of these threats, we have to know what roads, buildings and utilities are at risk.
That's where the new Florida Flood Hub comes in. It was recently established at the USF College of Marine Science in St. Petersburg.
Once it is fully operational, Wes Brooks - Florida's chief resilience officer - says the hub will identify what's most vulnerable to flooding statewide.
“I believe that Florida will be the first state in the country - and certainly the largest for some time, I would suspect - to have assessed the flood vulnerability of virtually every single piece of infrastructure and critical asset that there is with the state's borders,” Brooks said.
Brooks told conference members that the hub will be a central repository for flood models and information.
“Once fully operational, the flood hub will also provide a statewide picture of flood risk in a clear and consistent manner that can be used for transparent and fair decision making,” he said, “while also significantly lowering the technical burden on local governments - like here in Tampa - to incorporate forward-looking flood data and municipal planning.”
Brooks adds that more than 230 planning grants have been awarded to counties and cities throughout the state.
Speakers at the conference also said the work will become critical as extreme weather becomes the "new normal."