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 developed a flood resilience team to help Virginia localities and Planning District Commissions (PDCs) secure a Virginia Community Flood Preparedness Fund grant and build their capacity for developing effective flood management plans.

The team is led by project manager Elizabeth Marshall of the Weldon Cooper Center, working in tandem with an interdisciplinary team of researchers, staff, and students at the School of Engineering and Applied Science, the School of Architecture, the Institute for Engagement and Negotiation, and UVA-Wise. 

In spring 2023, the Initiative team released 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. 


Helping Vulnerable Communities

After a year-plus of research, data collection, and stakeholder engagement, the Flood Resilience team presented their roadmap and dashboard to regional and local leaders in the City of Martinsville and the Towns of South Boston and Halifax, as well as the Southside Planning District Commission (PDC). The researchers took a "whole community approach" to assess what flood resilience resources these regions have in place and then identify gaps.

A key deliverable of the project is a flood hazard inventory. Using geospatial mapping and data-driven techniques, the inventory provides a region-wide, high-resolution flood hazard analysis for both riverine floods and flash floods. Another priority was the localities' desire to ensure future planning reflects the experience of the districts' entire constituency. Factors like funding, staffing, training and experience, adaptability, and emergency readiness were accounted for, as well as regard for natural resources and the needs of socially vulnerable populations. 

"By identifying the most vulnerable areas and creating strategies to mitigate risks, South Boston will be better prepared to help our residents, businesses, and infrastructure from potential damage and losses from flood events," said Tom Raab, South Boston Town Manager.

The Initiative aligns with the UVA 2030 Plan's emphasis on serving the Commonwealth of Virginia and its communities, as well as the Cooper Center's mission of helping strengthen and support resilient communities.

Read the complete report

Learn More

Contact Elizabeth Marshall, Senior Project Coordinator at the Weldon Cooper Center to learn more about the program.

Visit the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation website to learn more about the Virginia Community Flood Preparedness Fund.