Mapping Flood Risks and Connecting Communities to Federal Support

United States

Featured image for the project, Mapping Flood Risks and Connecting Communities to Federal Support


The environmental crisis is global, but its impacts are felt locally, especially in low income and minority communities. Anthropocene Alliance (Aa) is a Florida-based non-profit organization that assists vulnerable communities across the U.S. who have been harmed by environmental abuse and climate change. Aa does this by building grassroots coalitions in the communities most badly affected. Aa provides support and training to community leaders and connects them to the government agencies and nonprofit programs that can help them the most.

Because these leaders know more about the harms they suffer than we do, and because they often possess great creativity and resilience, they are essential partners for us in the search for practical policy solutions to our most pressing, environmental challenges. Low-income communities, particularly ones that have been historically marginalized — Black, Latino and Native American — are both more vulnerable to flooding and less likely to have access to the information and technology they need.

Aa’s Higher Ground is the largest flood survivor group in the U.S.  They are currently working with 40 flood survivor groups in 19 U.S. states. The groups are urban and rural, coastal and inland. They are affected by coastal, riverine and overland flooding. Higher Ground is designed to help the group leaders and their communities through the entire process, from diagnosing the problem using the best, new data and technology available, to identifying solutions such as home buyouts, elevation and green infrastructure solutions. This will be accomplished through an integrated toolkit, comprised of initial meetings, intense discussions, distribution of surveys and factsheets, organization of community events, consultation with technology partners, and most of all, the application of a set of analytical and scientific instruments that will help residents make a persuasive case to the local, state and federal agencies that command the resources.

This project involves risk mapping in select communities across the United States to help residents understand their flood risks and identify properties for potential buyouts or elevation of structures.

About the Community

This project engages communities already paired with Thriving Earth Exchange hydrologists across the United States:

Port Arthur, TX; Lemmon Valley, NV; De Soto, MO


Higher Ground Communities Discuss Flood Risk Maps


June 7, 2019

Together on a Zoom call on Friday, June 7th, the Higher Ground communities and Thriving Earth Exchange team came together to discuss initial map outputs from the mapping work Michelle Hummel is doing across four U.S. communities. Michelle shared some initial maps using individual assistance claims data from FEMA for Port Arthur, TX. Drawing on connections with Fair Share Housing, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the team is preparing maps that draw on individual assistance claim data, digital elevation models (DEMs), LiDAR data, and repetitive loss data.

All updates for this project

Project Team

Science Liaison

Michelle Hummel is an Assistant Professor of Water Resources in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Texas at Arlington. She specializes in the development of numerical models to simulate flood hazards driven by extreme events and long-term sea-level rise and uses these models to quantify impacts on populations and critical infrastructure systems. She has previously studied regional patterns of flood exposure due to sea-level rise in the San Francisco Bay Area, considering community-level demographics and infrastructure dependencies. Michelle holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.


Collaborating Organization(s)