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Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) are developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide guidance in establishing the risk to structures and infrastructure in the coastal zone from storm surge and coincidental waves. The maps are used by state agencies and municipalities to help guide coastal planning and establish the minimum elevation standard for new or substantially improved structures. A summary of the methods used and results of 2012 FIRM mapping are presented for Charlestown, RI; a coastal community located along the exposed, southern shoreline of the state. Concerns with the methods used in the 2012 analysis are put in context with the National Research Council’s (NRC) 2009 review of the FEMA coastal mapping program. New mapping is then performed using state of the art, fully coupled surge and wave modeling and data analysis methods to address the concerns in the NRC review. The new maps and methodologies are in compliance with FEMA regulations and guidelines. The approach makes extensive use of the numerical modeling results from the recent US Army Corp of Engineers (USACE), North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study (NACCS 2015). Revised flood maps are presented and compared with the 2012 FIRM map to provide insight into the differences. The new maps highlight the importance of developing better estimates of offshore surge dynamics and its coupling to waves, dune erosion based on local observations, and the advancement in nearshore mapping of waves in flood inundated areas by the use of state of the art, two-dimensional wave transformation models.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.