Enhancement of the floodplain management program in Raleigh, NC: an analysis of lood risk reduction and preparedness strategies



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The city of Raleigh, NC has historically experienced and is expected to continue to experience rapid population growth and land development. These growth and development patterns may have future implications for the frequency, intensity, and spatial location of flooding events within the city. Floodplain management is an essential operation for urbanized communities in reducing the flood risk for and increasing the flood preparedness of floodplain property owners. Despite Raleigh’s existing floodplain management program, the city has continued to experience damaging floods within its floodplains. Therefore, additional floodplain management strategies may be necessary to mitigate the increased flood risk which Raleigh’s future urbanization may cause. The enhancement of the city’s floodplain management program has even been explicitly identified as a need in Raleigh’s 2030 Comprehensive Plan. Therefore, this report examines: 1) what are Raleigh’s current approaches to flood risk reduction and preparedness in the 100-year floodplain, and 2) what and how can Raleigh learn from other cities’ approaches to flood risk reduction and preparedness. The current state of Raleigh’s floodplain and Raleigh’s flood history was first determined through conducting: 1) a GIS spatial analysis, 2) interviews, and 3) a review of local news sources. The first research question was then answered through examining Raleigh’s floodplain ordinance, hazard mitigation plan, capital improvement program, and additional reports and website, and conducting interviews. Five categories of strategies for reducing flood risk and increasing flood preparedness were identified: 1) preventative strategies, 2) corrective strategies, 3) planning strategies, 4) structural strategies, and 5) warning strategies. The second research question was then answered through examining the above mentioned five categories of strategies in the floodplain management programs of Tulsa, OK and Charlotte, NC. Sources used to identify these cities’ strategies were similar to the sources used for Raleigh. Effectiveness of these strategies and implementation challenges of these strategies were next identified. Based on a final comparison of these three cities’ strategies, recommendations for new strategies which Raleigh could incorporate into their floodplain management program, potential effectiveness of these strategies, and potential implementation challenges were identified.