NYC Flood Maps - Session 9 Update

1. Pitch Update
We are sticking with a story about the parts of New York City that fall between various versions of active and proposed flood zones. We have refined our topic in a few ways:

  • We want to study the ways that NYC-developed maps differ from FEMA maps. Do they value certain flood predictors over others?
  • We are interested in how residents interpret these maps - do they have a concept of probability? How do they approach the changes that come with classification of their neighborhood as a flood zone?
  • We want to focus on a set of NYC neighborhoods to answer our core questions. Right now we are focused on Tribeca, Red Hook, Gowanus, Greenpoint (but maybe this will extend North and East to the river), and Alphabet City. We may eventually narrow down these neighborhood but that's what we are working with right now.

Our core questions remain: How are these residents approaching the prospect of a new flood map and all that comes with it? Could these updated boundaries have prevented damage from Sandy? How do the views of residents mesh with those of politicians and scientists? Which blocks are fighting back, and how many inches can they win?

2. Geospatial Representations

  1. To measure the impact of Sandy and its relation to old and new flood maps we are revising our initial maps to better show the areas in and out of flood zones that were damaged by Sandy.
  2. To outline how residents interpret flood maps we added a new representation to help capture how flood zones represent probabilities of flooding, even though they are often interpreted (and look like) "areas that will flood and areas that wont flood:"

3. Future Representations

  • To address how NYC models differ from FEMA models we are working with FEMA to get additional access to their models of flood risk, so hopefully a future representation of the ingredients that create flood risk probabilities (and eventually flood maps). Ideally we will be able to compare this to the same representation for the maps from the City.
  • To study how residents are approaching the prospects of new flood maps we are collecting information on civic activism around flood maps. If possible, we would like to spatially represent where this action is focused and how it might impact future flood zone lines.
  • To measure the impact of Sandy we hope to use some of the upcoming spatial analysis to represent what Sandy damage may have looked like had updated flood zone maps been in use.

We will need to figure out how all of these fit together into one narrative, but hopefully this leaves us many options.

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