Assessing Flooding and Hydrodynamics for Community Revitalization

Sunset Hills, Missouri

Featured image for the project, Assessing Flooding and Hydrodynamics for Community Revitalization

Description

For the residents of Sunset Hills and Fenton, Missouri, flooding in recent years has become deeply personal.  Located to the southwest of St. Louis, Sunset Hills and Fenton have experienced at least 3 significant floods within the past 5 years.  During a December 2015 storm, Tributary B, which flows to the Meramec River, jumped its banks and flooded homes and roadways. Ten homes were destroyed and 600 damaged.  Community members have approached FEMA for property buy-outs but have been denied.  Residents are now being forced by the city to tear down their homes or face penalties.  Residents impacted by flooding feel trapped without any viable solutions to their problems.

Citizens of Sunset Hills/Fenton For Flood Prevention was established to bring residents and local government together to raise awareness of flooding challenges, bring assistance to needed areas and generate community-wide solutions.  The flood group unites close to 70 members via its Facebook Page.  Citizens of Sunset Hills/Fenton For Flood Prevention has worked with their state representative to shed light on the magnitude of the flooding issues.  The group seeks support to characterize the nature of their flooding problems and present them to local government officials.

This project has been conceived and designed in partnership with community leaders at Citizens of Sunset Hills/Fenton For Flood Prevention and Flood Forum USA.

Contact

Emilie Hayes is the founder of Citizens of Sunset Hills/Fenton For Flood Prevention 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 scientific assessment is in line with their larger vision of flood reduction and spreading awareness among residents and government officials. 

Scientist Wanted

As an initial first step, a scientist is requested for 2 months to work with Citizens of Sunset Hills/Fenton For Flood Prevention 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

Work will begin as soon as possible (September-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
  • Familiarity of St. Louis County municipalities and their governmental structure
  • Understanding or experience studying levee hydrodynamics preferred
  • Ability to translate difficult science terminology to a lay audience
  • Willingness to be present for meetings with funders to respond to scientific questions, and work with community leaders to prepare for engaging with funders
  • 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 and able to walk neighborhoods with the community leaders

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