With all the hurricanes and resulting floods, we all have flooding on the brain. But how vulnerable are we?We watch news report after news report of water-related catastrophes, and though Colorado doesn't sit in danger of experiencing a hurricane, flooding is still a concern -- believe it or not. Remember the storm of September 2013? Parts of the Front Range received 17 inches of rain, and thousands of homes were flooded as a result (mine included!). But thanks to a helpful tool from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), we can now gauge our own neighborhood's susceptibility to flooding! Using FEMA’s flood hazard map, we can see street-level details about potential floods right in our own neighborhoods -- specifically “100-year” flood paths and whether we might be in the area of effect. [caption id="attachment_23249" align="aligncenter" width="650"] Screenshot image, courtesy of FEMA[/caption] The map includes minute details that may seem overwhelming at first, but they're helpful in identifying overall patterns. The "100-year" term denotes a large-scale flood that has a one-percent chance of affecting a resident; for instance, FEMA designates certain areas on the map as having a "one percent annual chance flood hazard" or, for 500-year floods, a "0.2 percent annual chance flood hazard," along with identifying areas reduced risks due to levee construction. [caption id="attachment_23248" align="aligncenter" width="783"] Screenshot image, courtesy of FEMA[/caption] Based on a map of the downtown Denver area, should the Platte River flood, the parking lots of Elitch Gardens and the Pepsi Center would have a risk of flooding once in 100 years. The Pepsi Center itself and most of Elitch Gardens are located in a "once in 500 years" flood zone. Great job to the city planners for making sure only the parking lots are at risk of flooding! To see how your neighborhood stacks up, simply click on the link and enter your address in the top righthand corner.
For more information on FEMA's terminology, click here. Being knowledgeable in advance could help you be prepared to deal with a water disaster in the unlikely event that it strikes.