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Effects of Sound Walls on Urban Flooding. Case Study: Hurricane Harvey
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Flooding has historically occurred within coastal areas of Texas due to hurricanes and other catastrophic weather events and continues to be a frequent and costly hazard. One community where flood vulnerability has intensified due to development is Friendswood, Texas. As residential areas are being developed near major roadways, the Texas Department of Transportation often undertakes noise abatement measures to reduce the impact of noise from highway traffic on housing areas. These structures may act as mini ‘dams’ impeding the flow of floodwaters and increasing flood depths upstream of such structures. No studies have investigated the relationship between sound walls or noise barriers to flood damage. Given climate trends that point to increased future hazards, it is critical to understand how development practices, including the use of sound walls or noise barriers, contribute to flooding in urban areas. This paper seeks to answer: Do sound walls impact floodwater depths? More specially, is the floodwater depth significantly higher on the upstream side of the sound wall as compared to the downstream side? Multiple statistical tests were performed including; T-Tests, ANOVA and Regression analysis. The results of this study indicate that the location of a sound wall, especially upstream of a sound wall that has few drainage openings, is an important predictor of flood damage to residential properties. Using projected future storm and climate streams in these models would further identify adaptations that could improve community resilience into the future.
Sypniewski, Jaimlyn Rose (2019). Effects of Sound Walls on Urban Flooding. Case Study: Hurricane Harvey. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from