Like many coastal communities, Jacksonville, Florida is situated near sea level, with many parts of the City susceptible to flooding caused by storm surge and extreme precipitation events. Over time, the risk of flood occurrence is increasing due to sea level rise and other climate change impacts.
In 2016, RS&H was tasked with evaluating the vulnerability of the Stein Mart building to these risks to support decision making for a real estate transaction. The property is located on Jacksonville’s south bank within one city block of the St. John’s River. RS&H obtained LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) digital elevation data for the area including the subject property, and also reviewed property records and the building’s elevation certificate. Using FEMA flood maps, RS&H established the annual percentage flood hazard for the property.
Storm surge is the abnormal rise of water generated by a storm over and above the predicted astronomical tide. RS&H used the National Hurricane Center’s Sea, Lake, and Overland Surges from Hurricane (SLOSH) model to evaluate predicted storm surge depths associated with Category 1 through 5 hurricanes at the site. We then evaluated predicted sea level rise for the local area and analyzed how changes in mean sea level (MSL) would affect storm surge potential.
Finally, we evaluated lowest entryways and critical infrastructure at the site which could be damaged in a flood event, and made recommendations to mitigate risk by protecting equipment vulnerable to inundation.
The resulting report allowed the client to better understand flood risk at the site and decide whether to proceed with a multi-million dollar transaction on a tight schedule. It also armed them with recommendations to mitigate flood risk by implementing certain targeted actions once the decision was made to purchase the property.