Flood Vulnerability Assessment for Critical Facilities
Even a slight chance of flooding can pose too great a threat to the delivery of services offered by the maintenance and operation of a community’s critical facilities. For a critical facility to function, building systems and equipment must remain operational.
In the hours and days after Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast of the United States in 2012, damage to essential equipment, including mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems prevented many critical facilities in New York and New Jersey from serving their communities when those communities needed them most. In numerous instances, critical facilities could not function because essential equipment was placed in basements, sub-basements, or ground floor levels that flooded. In some cases, components of essential systems were elevated well above the floodwaters, while other critical systems (transformers, transfer switches, fuel tanks, pumps, etc.) were placed at lower levels and therefore were vulnerable to flooding. When those vulnerable critical elements failed, the systems were rendered inoperative and the functionality of the critical facilities suffered as a result.
Citation: From “Reducing Flood Effects in Critical Facilities, http://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/30966”
What are the goals of the Flood Vulnerability Assessment for Critical Facilities (FVA)?
- Identify specific vulnerabilities of a particular critical facility to flooding by looking at factors such as proximity to a floodplain or other bodies of water, past flooding issues, emergency management plans, and location of critical systems like primary and back-up power.
- Provide recommendations and/or resources to critical facility managers for short- or long-term changes that could be made to reduce their facility’s risk to flooding.
- Provide educational information to increase the awareness of critical facility managers to their facility's risk of either riverine or urban flooding.
Who should take this assessment?
- A critical facility
- According to FEMA: Critical facilities include hospitals and other health care facilities; fire and police stations; emergency operations centers; communication and data centers; essential government buildings; and other critical facilities and their contents, machinery, and equipment therein, that serve the community or affect the safety, health, or welfare of the surrounding population. In some cases, the community may determine that wastewater treatment plants, water treatment plants, electrical substations, transportation facilities, and buildings such as schools or community centers are critical or essential for their community.
- The FVA is designed to assess a one-building critical facility, or a site of buildings (up to seven buildings) that function as one critical facility (e.g., a medical campus).
My facility is not in a floodplain, so does this assessment apply to me?
- While flooding is most common for those in the floodplain, flooding also occurs outside of the floodplain and is referred to as stormwater and/or urban flooding.
- According to FEMA, properties outside of high-risk flood areas account for over 20% of National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) claims and one-third of disaster assistance for flooding.
- In 2014, the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) published a research report, The Prevalence and Cost of Urban Flooding, for Cook County, Illinois. This analysis found that 97% of Cook County zip codes are affected by urban flooding. In addition, the 2015 Illinois Urban Flood Awareness Act Study found that 92% of private and federal insurance damage payouts were outside the floodplain. The findings suggested that property owners were no more likely to flood if they were within the floodplain than outside it.