Date of Award
Master of Science
Geography and Environmental Resources
Flooding in the United States has been increasing over the past century due to changing hydrological conditions as well as increased human manipulation of the waterways. People continue to live in these high hazard areas, even with increasing risk levels. Flood hazard mitigation has increasingly become a primary goal of floodplain managers with buyouts, insurance, and other nonstructural approaches becoming more prevalent over the past two decades. Whole town relocations have become one flood mitigation option. This study explores which community factors affect a town's decision to relocate. Three study areas in the Midwestern U.S. were analyzed: Valmeyer, IL, Rhineland, MO, and Pattonsburg, MO. Each of these three towns underwent a buyout and town relocation after the flood of 1993. Data was gathered using personal interviews with community members, specifically elected officials and relocation committee members. Analysis of interview responses identified community sense of place as the primary factor influencing relocation decisions including leadership, cost, people, and landscape. Leadership included town incorporation, relocation decision and committees, handling of legal issues, and site selection criteria. Cost involved the relocation cost, post-disaster development and tourism, and the business community of the study areas. People included the town heritage, community type, and the various community organizations. Landscape includes the types of relocation completed, the speed of the relocation event, and the amount of pre-disaster planning. Maps created show the pre and post-relocation municipal boundary of the study sites in relation to the 500-year floodplain boundary.
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