FloodSafeHome: Evaluating Financial Benefits and Savings of Freeboard for Improved Decision-Making in Flood Risk Mitigation

Carol Friedland, Kleinpeter, Shelly

This study presents a new web-based, decision-making tool called FloodSafeHome, which estimates the economic benefits and savings of freeboard installation for new residential buildings in flood-prone areas.

Freeboard is the height of a structure above the base flood elevation, and raising the first-floor elevation is an effective approach to mitigate flood risk. However, the lack of quantified financial benefits in relation to cost has prevented communities from adopting this approach. The FloodSafeHome tool calculates monthly savings for individual buildings by assessing freeboard cost, insurance savings per year, and expected annual flood loss. The tool includes an evaluation framework built on life-cycle benefit-cost analysis and interactive risk/benefit analysis features for the public and community leaders. The aim is to improve long-term flood resilience and provide cost-efficient flood mitigation strategies, particularly in disaster-vulnerable regions.

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The tool is designed for use in three southeastern Louisiana parishes to identify the expected future benefits of building residences with freeboard and enhance decision-making processes. The study indicates the levels of freeboard that optimize the cost-benefit ratio for flood-insured homes in the study area. This approach is expected to provide the best actionable information available for more robust flood risk assessment and communication the benefits of freeboard.

The study addresses the issue of homeowners' lack of awareness of flood risk in their residential areas, which leads to vulnerability and lack of opportunity to benefit from mitigation strategies. The authors propose a new location-based method of assessing the financial benefits and savings of freeboard installation to help homeowners, tenants, landlords, designers, builders, and planners make informed decisions. The web-based decision-making tool provides estimated construction costs, amortized costs per month, savings per month, and flood loss reduction. The findings show that elevation of a new home by 3 ft above the base flood elevation is optimal to maximize monthly savings ($175), and constructing the home with the optimal 3 ft of freeboard reduces monthly insurance premiums and flood loss by 72% and 67%, respectively. While the study has limitations, the proposed system is scalable and customizable, and will be continuously improved.

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Figure 2: Freeboard cost analysis report, including summary, monthly savings, monthly freeboard cost, monthly insurance premiums savings, and monthly savings from flood loss reduction

You can read the full article here : Frontiers | FloodSafeHome: Evaluating Financial Benefits and Savings of Freeboard for Improved Decision-Making in Flood Risk Mitigation (frontiersin.org)

4/20/2023 2:09:44 PM
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