Document Type


Date of Original Version



Ocean Engineering


STORMTOOLS coastal environmental risk index (CERI) was applied to communities located along the southern coast of Rhode Island (RI) to determine the risk to structures located in the flood plain. CERI uses estimates of the base flood elevation (BFE), explicitly including the effects of sea level rise (SLR); details on the structure types, from the E911 emergency data base/parcel data, and associated first floor elevation (FFE); and damage curves from the US Army Corp of Engineers North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study (NACCS) to determine the damages to structures for the study area. Surge levels and associated offshore waves used to determine BFEs were obtained from the NACCS hydrodynamic and wave model predictions. The impacts of sea level rise and coastal erosion on flooding were modeled using XBeach and STWAVE and validated by observations at selected locations along the coastline. CERI estimated the structural damage to each structure in the coastal flood plain for 100 yr flooding with SLR ranging from 0 to 10 ft. The number of structures at risk was estimated to increase approximate linearly from 3700 for no SLR to about 8000 for 10 ft SLR, with about equal percentages for each of the four coastal communities (Narragansett, South Kingstown, Charlestown, and Westerly, Rhode Island (RI)). The majority of the structures in the flood plain are single/story residences without (41%) and with (46%) basements (total 87%; structures with basements are the most vulnerable). Less vulnerable are structures elevated on piles with 8.8% of the total. The remaining are commercial structures principally located either in the Port of Galilee and or Watch Hill. The analysis showed that about 20% of the structures in the 100 yr flood plain are estimated to be damaged at 50% or greater. This increases to 55% of structures as SLR rises to 5 ft. At higher SLR values the percent damaged at 50% or greater slowly declines to 45% at 10 ft SLR. This behavior is a result of the number of homes below MSL increasing dramatically as SLR values moves higher than 5 ft and thus being removed from the structures damaged pool. Generalized CERI risk maps have developed to allow the managers to determine the broad risk of siting structures at any location in their communities. CERI has recently become available as a mobile phone App, facilitating the ability of state and local decision makers and the public to determine the risk of locating a selected building type at any location in their communities.

Creative Commons License

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