Step 3: Identifying Assessment Areas

In this Step, you will identify assessment areas that will be used in later steps of the CRS Community Self Assessment and in certain CRS activities (e.g., creating a Program for Public Information).

Study the map you created in the previous section. The map should depict areas of your community that are affected by the different types of flooding. Some areas will overlap, others will cover very small or very large areas. Areas may be densely or sparsely populated. Consider historical flooding, economic or (re)development pressures, open spaces, the natural functions of the floodplain, residential and commercial areas. Think about these characteristics and use the information you gathered in the first section to identify similar areas.

Assessment areas are neighborhoods, districts, or other areas of the community with similar flooding, building, and population characteristics.

Characteristics to consider while identifying assessment areas:

  • Developed parts of the Special Flood Hazard Area
  • Undeveloped areas subject to flooding
  • The downtown business district
  • Residential areas
  • Industrial areas
  • Parks
  • Shopping centers, malls
  • Schools/College Campus
  • Critical facilities, hospitals
  • Repetitive loss areas
  • An area subject to an unmapped special hazard, such as sinkholes or ice jams
  • An area protected by a levee
  • An area subject to flooding due to a dam failure
  • Beachfront hotels and rental units
  • A floodprone trailer park
  • Recently annexed land
  • Residential neighborhoods
  • Tourist attractions or hotel districts
  • Residential areas with a high percentage of renters
  • Elderly/infirm populations or retirement communities
  • Non-English-speakers
  • Areas outside the SFHA with historical flooding

Here’s an example list of assessment areas:

  • Area 1 – Downtown shopping area subject to stormwater drainage problems;
  • Area 2 – Coastal/riverside commercial or boardwalk areas subject to coastal flooding and/or tsunamis;
  • Area 3 – School campuses or critical facilities subject to shallow flooding or sheetflow;
  • Area 4 – Agricultural areas subject to flooding with a concentration of non-English speaking residents;
  • Area 5 – Residential areas with a high percentage of individuals who may need special assistance or consideration during a flood, such as a retirement community.

Assessment areas need not be in your SFHA. Area 5 in the example above could be a Zone X, but the community should plan for evacuation or services if roads or other infrastructure are impacted by a flood. Also note that not all the identified assessment areas may warrant community action in later steps. For example, some assessment areas that flood may be vacant and already protected from development.

Some Assessment areas may overlap one another. Your SFHA may only cover a small area, but a dam or levee failure would impact nearly the entire community. In this case, identify the larger and smaller areas separately and note the exclusive characteristics of each.

If your community is small, you may identify a small number of assessment areas. If yours is a very large community with many assessment areas that cover a large geographic area, consider grouping areas that have common characteristics, flood types and populations. For the purpose of the Community Self Assessment, we recommend identifying no more than 15-20 assessment areas, though there may be cases where more are needed to address a uniquely varied set of areas.

If using GIS to complete the Community Self Assessment, create layers with attributes that identify the assessment areas by location, characteristics, population, flooding types, etc. If you are using a printed map, outline the assessment areas on the map using colors or symbols. In either case, assign numbers and/or names to the areas and create a list or report as in the example below.

Assessment Area  Location/ Description  Hazards  Characteristics  Demographics
1 Downtown Stormwater backup Urban, densely populated Shopkeepers, young couples
2 Boardwalk Tsunami, coastal flooding Shoreline high-rise buildings, hotels Business owners, tourists
3 College campus Shallow flooding/ponding Dorms, school buildings, gym Students and teachers, campus employees, few with own transportation
4 Farmland east of town Riverine flooding Agricultural buildings and ranches Non-English speaking, migrant workers, and farmers
5 Retirement community None, but only access road is subject to frequent flooding Multi-family, medical facilities Elderly


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