Communications & Communities

Leveraging earlier work through independent academic research and the Intergovernmental Pilot Project, faculty from VIMS and ODU will be working with localities and citizens on enhancing and testing risk communication strategies from nuisance flooding to larger storms.  While longer term strategies are developed, over the first year, faculty across VIMS, ODU, and William and Mary will work on discrete projects to enhance communication strategies and build stronger more resilient communities across the Commonwealth of Virginia.


Working with local GIS staff and emergency managers, an ODU and VIMS team will develop a better understanding of flood risk perception, information seeking behavior and decision making, and then work to influence decision making and develop new communication tools.  Strategies  include the following:

  • Identification of realistic flooding scenarios
  • Modeling those scenarios
  • Obtaining decision-maker response to flooding scenarios
  • Developing risk communication and preparation messing strategies using existing applications
  • Pilot test on subcommittees in Hampton Roads

Additionally, researchers are currently working on collaboration with the City of Virginia Beach on increasing resilience in the tourism community.  These lessons will be relevant throughout the coastal Virginia tourism industry.  An assessment of the tourism industry is currently ongoing.


Flooding does not only impact coastal Virginia.  In fact, many of our worst disasters have impacted communities in the western portion of the state.  The Piedmont, Shenandoah Valley, and mountains are vulnerable to flooding events from a variety of processes:

  • “Backdoor storms” or tropical systems approaching from the west and southwest (e.g. Hurricane Camille)
  • Orographic precipitation amplification of tropical and extra tropicalstorm rainfall; and
  • Isolated airmass thunderstorms that can become “terrain-locked”

Researchers will investigate and map these multiple flood hazards, and identifying specific vulnerabilities working in partnership with local officials, emergency managers, and floodplain managers in Virginia’s inland regions.