VIRGINIA BEACH, Va (WVEC) – Watching the devastation in Houston, Texas after Hurricane Harvey, it got Whitney Katchmark thinking: What can Hampton Roads do better if a hurricane were to hit?
Katchmark and her team at the Hampton Roads Planning District put together a study exploring the topic.
"It's a little bit more brainstorming rather than analysis," she said.
As the head water resources engineer, her mind immediately went to flooded roads.
She particularly focuses on evacuation routes, which means better planning for storms and better prediction methods.
"There’s already something in the works that takes into account wind, storm surge, and ground saturation," Katchmark said. "Trying to add all of those things up together so that your model is really accurate, it's just a challenge and it can be done."
Katchmark already made a map listing out floodgates and pump stations. It’s a tool that our area has never had before she looked into it.
She said the key take away from this is for residents in the area to get flood insurance.
"You wonder about how many people actually got insurance to make sure it doesn't happen again?"
Katchmark said 15 percent of those flooded in Houston did not have coverage. And when individuals seek out help, FEMA maps can be confusing.
Katchmark generated a map of Hampton Roads after Hurricane Matthew flooded our area. It showed a huge cluster of homes in Virginia Beach that were not in the flood plain and did not require flood insurance.
"I think that's what we're trying to make people aware of,” she explained. “Your expectation should be if you don't have flood insurance and you get flooded, you're on your own."
You can read the full presentation, here.