Jordan R. Fischbach, RAND Water and Climate Resilience Center, RAND Corporation

Levee failures during Hurricane Katrina exposed tremendous shortcomings in the infrastructure designed to protect the Louisiana coast from storm surge flooding. Since the storm, for example, over $15 billion has been spent upgrading the New Orleans Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System and building other protection projects to harden Louisiana’s defenses against future storms. The state’s Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast, currently being updated for 2017, looks forward at the next fifty years and represents a commitment to protecting coastal communities and natural resources in an uncertain future.

Many different approaches to reducing flood risk in Southeast Louisiana have been proposed over the years, including a wide range of levee system designs, large-scale coastal ecosystem restoration, and hazard mitigation investments for residential or commercial buildings. To evaluate the potential benefits from proposed risk reduction projects, researchers at the RAND Corporation and Purdue University developed the Coastal Louisiana Risk Assessment (CLARA) model, a quantitative simulation model of coastal flood risk originally developed to support long-term, scenario-based analysis and coastal master planning in Louisiana. The modeling team recently made a series of augments and improvements to better support the development of the State of Louisiana’s 2017 Coastal Master Plan.

In this talk, Dr. Fischbach will provide an overview of the CLARA model, including structure and methods, and describe a series of recent investigations using the model to estimate current and future flood risk in New Orleans and across the Louisiana coast 50 years from the present day with or without proposal risk reduction investments in place.

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