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Clemson scientists explore costs of flood mitigation solutions

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A multidisciplinary team from Clemson University will evaluate infrastructure intervention initiatives for quelling the impact of floods in South Carolina’s coastal communities with support from a $404,000 coastal community resilience grant.

“In coastal South Carolina and beyond, nuisance flooding from extremely high spring or ‘king’ tides can disrupt life for residents and visitors in our communities,” Daniel Hitchcock, associate professor at Clemson University’s Baruch Institute of Coastal Ecology and Forest Science, said in a news release. “These flood events are more routine than our unprecedented tropical events over the past few years. Recent large tropical events have certainly opened our eyes to potential adverse impacts and demonstrate the need for better data and predictive tools, as well as socioeconomic assessment.”

Clemson’s researchers will conduct geospatial analyses of flood hot spots and the economic impact in these areas, according to the news release. Hitchcock’s team will include Baruch Institute associates Marcieh Motallebi, assistant professor of applied economics, Amy Scaroni, an assistant extension professor; Bo Song, associate professor of landscape ecology; and Tom Williams, a professor emeritus in hydrology.

Economic data contrasting gray — man-made — and green infrastructure will be collected in Georgetown County for the study in collaboration with research projects in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Garden City, Ga., and New Bern and New Hanover County, N.C.

“This specific project is really more about infrastructure and access to places, whether it’s kids who have to go to school, parents who have to go to work, or people that need emergency services. Of course, tourism is potentially heavily impacted, because flooding keeps visitors away or may impact their stay, such as preventing them from going to dinner and spending money in restaurants and shops,” Hitchcock said in the release. “So, it’s really all about the evaluation of the impacts of nuisance, routine flooding in these types of areas, whether it’s urban, barrier islands, marshes or other upstream coastal property and real estate.”

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