FEMA Flood Modeling Program Gives Students Hands-On Experience

According to experts, flooding is often cited as one of the most frequent and the leading cause of property damage each year in the United States. And, the changing climate may be intensifying weather patterns and altering sea levels resulting in ever greater flooding in certain regions.  
Students in Mitigation and Disaster Recovery (HLS 461) are using FEMA software for a course project. Homeland Security Professor Dr. Chad Foster worked with faculty in the Geography department and colleagues in the EKU IT department to give his class an opportunity to use FEMA’s Flood Hazard Modeling Program, which is referred to as Hazus-MH.
Using the application, students pulled up the city of their choice and examined where floods may occur, what might be damaged and what the dollar amount of the loss might be. The software also supports analysis of areas susceptible to earthquakes and hurricanes, and produces similar estimates of losses. 
Foster intends to work with the EKU Online instructional design team to make the FEMA program available to online students, too. “The more hands-on, active learning we can bring to the online classes, the better,” he said.
“Flooding is a common hazard in many communities across the United States,” explained Foster, “so it’s one of the potential disasters we focus on in the course.” By identifying these areas in advance of an incident that triggers flooding such as severe weather or the failure of a levee or dam, communities may implement measures to lessen their impacts. 
Community managers all over the country use the FEMA program, as well as their own data, on the job to support, for example, decisions about future growth and development. It’s something students can put on their resumes that will be noticed by potential employers. 

Published on March 02, 2016