Helping Vulnerable Communities
In 2020, state legislation passed that allocated significant funds to support regions and localities across Virginia in reducing the impacts of flooding. The disruption caused by devastating and recurring flood events has been worsening over time for many communities throughout Virginia; however, not all have the time or resources to devote to flood resilience.
The Virginia Community Flood Preparedness Fund (VCFPF) helps communities assess their vulnerability to flood events and develop and implement actionable flood resilience plans, studies, and projects. A portion of the state fund was set aside for projects in low-income geographic areas.
In response, the Weldon Cooper Center built an interdisciplinary team of researchers, staff, and students at UVA's School of Engineering and Applied Science, the School of Architecture, the Institute for Engagement and Negotiation, and UVA-Wise. This team helped in the City of Martinsville and the Towns of South Boston and Halifax, as well as the Southside Planning District Commission secure a Virginia Community Flood Preparedness Fund grant and build their capacity for developing effective flood management plans.
The Initiative aligns with the UVA 2030 Plan's emphasis on serving the Commonwealth of Virginia as well as the Cooper Center's mission of helping strengthen and support resilient communities.
After a year-plus of research, data collection, and stakeholder engagement, in spring 2023, the Flood Resilience team presented their roadmap and dashboard to regional and local leaders. The researchers took a "whole community approach" to assess what flood resilience resources these regions have in place and then identify gaps, and created a "roadmap" to help inland areas assess their preparedness to plan for flood resilience. Featuring a flood hazard dashboard that helps communities assess flood risk, the report supports regions that historically have lacked the resources to devote to flood resilience planning.