Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Geography and Environmental Resources

First Advisor

Remo, Jonathan


In this study new, a flood vulnerability (FLV) indices using socio-economic and loss-estimation parameters from Hazus-MH were created to relatively assess flood vulnerable among Illinois's jurisdictions. Hazus-MH is nationally standardized software program developed by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that estimates the potential economic losses and limited social impacts for a select suite of natural hazards. Here we defined FLV as combined function of potential building-related-economic losses and socioeconomic factors. The Hazus-MH loss estimation software and FEMA's 100-year regulatory floodplain were used to estimate flood building-related-economic losses. To assess the relative differences in the potential socioeconomic consequences of flooding among Illinois jurisdictions, social vulnerability (SoV) indices were calculated using six socioeconomic indicators available within Hazus-MH's demographic database. Total estimated the building-related-flood exposure within the 100-year floodplain in Illinois was estimated to be ~ $190.25 billion (2006 dollars). The city of Chicago and the adjoining counties were estimated to have the greatest flood exposure. These counties accounted for approximately 65% of the total flood exposure located within Illinois's 100-year floodplains. The estimation of total building-related-flood loss within the 100-year floodplain was $ 18.03 billion (2006 dollars). The FLV assessment results indicated that urban and suburban communities are relatively more resilient to flooding. This is likely due to the availability of preventative resources such as well-constructed buildings to resist flood damages, existence of good levee systems, land use regulation for flood-prone site, and evacuation programs. While more rural, river communities in southern Illinois tend to be more vulnerable to flood because they lack the "preventative resource" found in Illinois's urban and suburban communities. Exceptions to the more flood resilient urban and suburban communities were found in poor urban jurisdictions located in southern Cook County. These communities tended have some of the highest SoV scores in the state. However, these communities generally had only minor to moderate to flood exposure suggesting there elevated FLV was largely driven by their SoV scores. In addition to southern Cook County in northeastern Illinois, SoV analysis results indicate that there were clustering of relatively high-social vulnerability in counties adjacent to Cook, Du Page and Will. Jurisdictions in Southern Illinois with elevated FLV were located in Alexander, Pulaski, Williamson, and Saline Counties. Properly understanding and relatively assessing flood vulnerability can lead to a more complete and informative flood hazard assessment. This cannot be accomplished without taking into consideration the two main elements of flood vulnerability, economic losses and SoV. The SoV indices provide an experimental foundation for comparing spatial disparity within a SoV context across a large and diverse geographic area such as the State of Illinois. Flood and social vulnerability indices can be a useful approach in flood-risk planning and mitigation efforts. Moreover, the SoV score could be used as a measurement tool to prioritize high socially vulnerable areas which are more in need of assistance, while those areas with low social vulnerability scores might be expected to be more self-sufficient at mitigating their flood risk or recovering from a flood disaster.




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