The impacts of increasing rainfall: Flood fatalities in Texas




Jackson, Terrance Lee

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Flooding is the leading cause of fatalities from natural disasters occurring in Texas. Texas is the state with most flood fatalities in the United State with more than three times the number of fatalities in the following state. Flooding is occurring more frequently in Texas due to the significant changes in weather patterns. This study analyzes the flood fatality databases from the National Climatic Data Center, the Spatial Hazard Event and Loss Database for the United States, and the Texas Department of State Health Services. The data collected for the flood fatalities include the date, time, gender, age, race, location, watershed, and weather conditions. A comparison is performed to analyze the database statistics by year and month. The flood fatality data is also analyzed based on the activity or setting of occurrence. Vehicle incidences are analyzed by age and gender. The vehicle fatalities are further analyzed by time of day. The frequency of flood fatalities by county was performed to determine the spatial distribution of the deaths. Most flood fatalities are associated with driving into flood water.

A case study performed examined the flood impact of the June 30 to July 7, 2002 storm event that resulted in five flood fatalities. Hydrologic analysis was performed using the Gridded Surface Subsurface Hydrologic Analysis model for the Upper Antonio River Basin located in Bexar County. Hydraulic Engineering Center River Analysis System software was used to determine depth of water at the flood fatality location within the Upper San Antonio River Basin. This case study can be used as a procedure to determine the depths at low water crossings during or before flood events. Driving through flood water is a behavioral problem and structural measures are costly. Hydrologic analysis can help provide more accurate and specific warnings regarding locations that would potentially be flooded. Emergency and safety officials can benefit from educational programs that increase awareness of the dangers of driving into flood and advanced hydrometeorological forecasts.


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Civil and Environmental Engineering