Communities Gaining Ground in the Race Against Rising Waters

Aug 21, 2020 | What's New

New Flood Science Center resource uses story maps to educate and engage officials on flooding issues

Floods and flood-related hazards have the potential to damage or destroy public and private property and disrupt the local economy and overall quality of life in all types of communities. For elected officials tasked with keeping their communities safe, there’s a valuable new resource that offers an inside look at eight communities from across the United States who successfully tackled their flood problems.

ASFPM’s Flood Science Center is pleased announce the release of the story map Communities Gaining Ground in the Race Against Rising Waters. It serves as a companion piece to Understanding and Managing Flood Risk: A Guide for Elected Officials, a three-volume guide the Flood Science Center released in February. This comprehensive guide was written to provide elected officials with the knowledge and resources necessary to protect people and property from flooding.

The third volume of the guide currently consists of case studies of eight communities that successfully addressed their flood problem. These success stories are largely based on interviews with local elected officials from several of the communities. Dave Fowler, a Flood Science Center project manager, conducted a majority of the recorded interviews available through the story map and guide.

Longmont, CO - current and former mayor

Longmont mayor Brian Bagley and former mayor Dennis Coombs (2011-2017) talk about the Resilient St. Vrain project.

St. Vrain Greenway in Longmont, CO

Once ravaged by floodwaters, the St. Vrain Greenway in Longmont, CO was transformed into a vibrant recreational nature area.

“While the guide is a great resource, the sheer amount of information may feel overwhelming to elected officials with competing responsibilities and hectic schedules,” said Beth Klusinske, research associate, Flood Science Center. “We created the story map Communities Gaining Ground in the Race Against Rising Waters as a fun, accessible way to see how many of the solutions outlined in the guide are already happening in several communities.”

The story map revisits the same communities featured in Volume III, and provides some new information while looking at the various flood issues from a different perspective. It is written in a non-technical, storytelling style, and structured as a guided tour through each of the success story communities. Within the story map, you can learn more about a specific community by clicking on its location on the map, or follow the tour through all of the communities by scrolling down. You can see each community’s timeline of flood events and responses, and follow a link to explore an immersive narrative that includes photos, videos, and audio clips.

The timelines give an anatomy of flood risk reduction from a variety of communities. Examining each community’s response from an historical angle lets us see how they adapted over time, shifting their approach as conditions changed. As highlighted in the story maps, it often takes a major disaster before a community takes action to reduce its flood risk.

Since there is no one-size-fits-all solution to address flooding, the stories come from a cross-section of places across the U.S. – from coastal communities to inland areas, and small towns to large cities. The eight communities featured are:

  • Iowa City, Iowa
  • Harris County, Texas
  • Longmont, Colorado
  • Roseville, California
  • Valley View, Ohio
  • Illinois’ 38th District
  • Norfolk, Virginia
  • Findley, Ohio

With locations as diverse as their flooding challenges and solutions, Communities Gaining Ground in the Race Against Rising Waters offers a valuable tool for anyone looking for sound approaches to address flooding. For example, a village may get ideas from reading about Valley View, Ohio, or a Gulf Coast community may take interest in Harris County’s story. People are hardwired to remember and be influenced by stories, and to learn by example from others. We hope that these stories inspire elected officials to prepare before disaster strikes.

If you know of other elected officials helping lead the way against rising flood waters, please contact Dave Fowler ( or Jeff Stone ( to share their stories. We know that there are many more stories out there and want to add them to our story map!

View Communities Gaining Ground in the Race Against Rising Waters.