UNCW grad student hopes his Florence research will benefit future flood preparation

UNCW grad student hopes his Florence research will benefit future flood preparation
Christopher Hidalgo displaying research on Florence river flooding

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Christopher Hidalgo, a graduate student at UNCW, believes his research on Hurricane Florence flooding will benefit North Carolina with future hurricane preparations.

Hidalgo’s specific focus is to understand the extent of rainfall flooding during the storm, an important factor that FEMA’s flood insurance rate maps lack. Instead, these maps only take into account riverine flooding and storm surge, leaving out key information. Hidalgo explains that by not taking into account heavy rainfall, any areas that are not within the 100-year floodplain are left vulnerable to flooding.

Using satellite imagery from Planet Labs, a global imaging company, Hidalgo is comparing land from seven different counties in eastern North Carolina before and after Hurricane Florence. These counties are New Hanover, Craven, Onslow, Pender, Carteret, Brunswick, and Duplin.

Additionally, Hidalgo is examining the relationship between potentially flooded areas and socioeconomic groups that are characterized as low income. He hopes for state and local governments to view his research and learn how to approach populations of these counties.

Hidalgo is confident about the positive impact that his findings will have on eastern North Carolina.

“I think it might open some eyes as to just how bad it can be and what we can expect down the road," Hidalgo said.

He plans to publish his research this year and is looking forward to the positive impact he believes it will have on the way FEMA views future storm relief.

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