Assessing Flooding and Hydrodynamics for Flood Prevention and Mitigation

Ocean City, New Jersey

Featured image for the project, Assessing Flooding and Hydrodynamics for Flood Prevention and Mitigation

Description

Known as “America’s Greatest Family Resort”, Ocean City, New Jersey is a favorite beach getaway for those looking to escape hot summer days in the Mid-Atlantic.  Approximately 10 miles south of Atlantic City, Ocean City sits on a 7.5-mile-long barrier island peppered with beaches, amusement parks, eateries and vacation homes.  The island experiences what is known as Back Bay flooding where inundation occurs when flood waters pass through inlets on the bay side of island. Hurricane Sandy hit the island particularly hard, leaving extensive flooding and damage in its wake.  Fast forward 5 years later and the community continues to experience flooding events not only from storms but from a combination of sea level rise and high tide events.  These sunny day flood events often cause feet of flooding and are a constant disruption to the residents of Ocean City.  For the period between 1911 and 2016 the mean sea level rise trend, as measured by NOAA, for nearby Atlantic City was 4.07mm/year.  This rate is forecasted to continue rising with the sustained release of greenhouse gases into Earth’s atmosphere.

For full-time residents, flood events can make life very difficult.  Outdated infrastructure has collapsed in areas and storm drains cannot adequately handle flood waters that runoff roofs and impervious pavement.  During Winter Storm Jonas in January 2016, residents found themselves trapped indoors for days with dangerous debris floating down the streets and pollution contaminating the flood waters.  Properties continue to incur flood damages and the potential for people to be sickened by contaminated flood waters is a constant risk.

The flood group Ocean City Flooding was established to unite residents and property owners concerned about flooding and to coordinate efforts to influence local government to take action to alleviate these persistent problems.  OC Flooding’s Facebook page has over 1,300 followers and many use the platform to check in on one another.  Community leaders with OC Flooding continue to make their case for why the city should invest in improvements to its outdated and non-functioning stormwater system, emergency management system and zoning laws.

This project has been conceived and designed in partnership with community leaders at OC Flooding and Flood Forum USA.

Contact

Suzanne Hornick is the founder of OC Flooding and will serve as the community lead.  The community lead commits to engaging with the scientific partner on this project and providing strategic direction to ensure that the assessment is in line with their larger vision of creating an island-wide flood remediation plan for Ocean City.

Scientist Wanted

As an initial first step, a scientist is requested for 2 months to work with OC Flooding to walk the neighborhood with the community leaders, examine and aggregate existing hydrological assessments and create a short write-up summarizing neighborhood-scale vulnerability and describe some next steps to learn more about and/or start mitigating that vulnerability.  These next steps will provide a foundation and refined scope upon which to shape the remainder of this TEX-FFUSA project.

TEX asks all scientific partners to work with the community to help define a project with concrete local impact that they can contribute to as pro-bono volunteers and collaborators.  This work can also position the scientists and communities to seek additional funding, together, for the next stage.

 

Timeline and Outcome

Work will begin as soon as possible (October 2017).  The first phase of this project will take approximately 2 months.  Once a refined project scope is identified, the remainder of the project is expected to last 12-16 months.

 

Desired Skills and Expertise

  • Background in hydrology or environmental engineering
  • Understanding of barrier island dynamics and back-bay flooding preferred
  • Knowledge of water-borne pathogenic diseases preferred
  • Ability to critically analyze data
  • Capable of explaining scientific data in a confident manner in potentially politically- charged environments
  • Ability to translate difficult science terminology to a lay audience
  • Willingness to connect science to local concerns
  • Strong listening and communication skills
  • Competent and open to new ideas
  • Relaxed, easy going personality with a good sense of humor
  • The scientist should be able to visit the community in-person

Collaborating Organization(s)

This project is part of one of TEXs’ new cohorts.  TEX has partnered with Flood Forum USA which supports grassroots flood groups across the country by helping them develop strategies for a sustainable future.  TEX is working with ten of their grassroots groups to connect them with scientists who can help them better characterize neighborhood-level flood risks and work effectively with local decision makers to mitigate those risks. 

Flood Forum USA