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Congressional Briefing - Outsmarting the Storm: The Science of Floodplain Mapping




October 22, 2013, The Congressional Hazards Caucus Alliance and the Senate Hazards Caucus presented a congressional briefing entitled, “Outsmarting the Storm: The Science of Floodplain Mapping.” 

Organized by the American Geosciences Institute, the American Geophysical Union, and the National Association of State Floodplain Managers, with the Geological Society of America and the Seismological Society of America, the briefing provided an overview of the latest technology used to create floodplain maps and revealed how the maps can be successfully implemented to mitigate flood risk. Gerry Galloway, professor of engineering at the University of Maryland, served as the moderator and started the briefing by explaining the historical context of floodplain mapping. He outlined regulations for flood risk zones and advances in technology for floodplain mapping.

David Maune, the Remote Sensing Project Manager at Dewberry, described how Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), which generates digital elevation data, is critical for accurate floodplain maps.  LiDAR sensors emit laser pulses that create a 3-D digital elevation model, which is used to determine the extent of flooding. Michael Buckley, Vice President at Dewberry and former Deputy Assistant Administrator for FEMA’s Mitigation Directorate, represented the Association of State Floodplain Managers. Buckley's presentation focused on how hydrologic modeling is used in flood mitigation. He described how LiDAR can be used with stream gage data to model riverine flooding.

The final speaker, John Dorman from the North Carolina Division of Emergency Management, demonstrated how interagency collaboration and investment in technology can yield highly successful flood maps and reduce hazard risk. He showed how North Carolina partnered with FEMA and 15 other federal agencies to invest in high resolution topographic data to make accurate risk maps. They used mobile LiDAR to collect building perimeters and elevations to assess the flood risk of each building in the state. Visit North Carolina’s Floodplain Mapping Program for more information on their success of modernizing the nation’s flood maps.

For more information on the Congressional Hazards Caucus please visit their web site at Click here to download the speakers' presentations.


David Maune (left) and John Dorman (right) sharing their expertise about floodplain mapping.


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