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Students at Texas A&M University have won awards for their proposed flood protection measures for vulnerable communities identified through a tool developed by a Coastal Resilience Center of Excellence (CRC) project.

Graduate student Zixu Qiao and an undergraduate team – Alaina Parker, Molly Morkovsky, Phillip Hammond, Maritza Sanchez and Claudia Pool – were winners of their respective categories for awards determined by the American Society of Landscape Architects – Texas Chapter. The TX-ASLA Honor Awards were announced on April 28, at the group’s annual conference.

An example of flood defense measures suggested in the "Climate Change Armor" proposal.
An example of flood defense measures suggested in the “Climate Change Armor” proposal.

The landscape architecture students are advised with Dr. Galen Newman, a co-Principal Investigator on a CRC project led by Dr. Phil Berke. The students used a resilience scorecard that is the focus of Dr. Berke’s project to envision changes to vulnerable League City, Tex. The scorecard, which is under development, is used to help local planners and emergency managers integrate disaster risk into every element of urban development, so that all plans work together.

League City (pop. 88,000) is one of the pilot cities involved in Dr. Berke’s project. The sections of the city that were studied are within a district that scored as having medium-to-high vulnerability and would be affected by the 100-year floodplain and with sea-level rise. However, they scored medium-to-low on the degree to which the policies of different plans (land use, parks and recreation, hazard mitigation and housing) adopted by city agencies reduced vulnerability to floods. Students are working on impact analyses of their design scenarios, then will revisit the policies in the district and identify policy changes.

An example of the community designs proposed in the "ReS.T.O.R.E." project.
An example of the community designs proposed in the “ReS.T.O.R.E.” project.

Qiao’s project, “Climate Change Armor,” won in the Planning and Analysis Category, Graduate Level. It proposes a combination of mounds, walls, terraces, riparian buffers and architectural designs to protect against flooding risks.

The team project, “Re.S.T.O.R.E.,” won in the Planning and Analysis Category, Undergraduate Level. It envisions creating and disbursing habitats, creating green networks and redistributing basins and creating new elevations to protect against floods.

Dr. Berks’s project will produce a Practitioner’s Guide and Scorecard to provide local practitioners a tool to identify when and where their community plans are in conflict, as well as how well they target areas of the community that are most vulnerable. Armed with this new knowledge, planners can engage the whole community regarding ‘missed opportunities’ to strengthen local hazard mitigation planning, leveraging such knowledge to improve the integration, consistency and responsiveness of their networks of plans.

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