Mitigating Flood Loss through Local Comprehensive Planning in Florida
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Planning researchers believe that property losses from natural hazards, such as floods can be reduced if governments address this issue and adopt appropriate policies in their plans. However, little empirical research has examined the relationship between plan quality and actual property loss from floods. My research addresses this critical gap in the planning and hazard research literature by evaluating the effectiveness of current plans and policies in mitigating property damage from floods. Specifically, this study: 1) assesses the extent to which local comprehensive plans integrate flood mitigation policies in Florida; and 2) it examines the impact of the quality of flood mitigation policies on actual insured flood damages. Study results show that fifty-three local plans in the sample received a mean score for total flood mitigation policy quality of 38.55, which represents 35.69% of the total possible points. These findings indicate that there is still considerable room for improvement by local governments on flooding issues. The scores of local plans varied widely, with coastal communities receiving significantly higher scores than non-coastal communities. While most communities adopted land use management tools, such as permitted land use and wetland permits as primary flood mitigation tools, incentive based tools/taxing tools and acquisition tools were rarely adopted. This study also finds that plan quality associated with flood mitigation policy had little discernible effect on reducing insured flood damage while controlling for biophysical, built environment and socio-economic variables. This result counters the assumption inherent in previous plan quality research that better plans mitigate the adverse effects associated with floods and other natural hazards. There are some possible explanations for this result in terms of plan implementation, land use management paradox and characteristics of insurance policies. The statistical analysis also suggests that insured flood loss is considerably affected by wetland alteration and a community's location on the coast. Another finding indicates that very strong leadership and dam construction are factors in mitigating flood loss.
Kang, Jung Eun (2009). Mitigating Flood Loss through Local Comprehensive Planning in Florida. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from