November 2, 2023

New Flood Visualization Tool Marks Ongoing Progress Two Years After Flood Protection Program Referendum

The City of Virginia Beach is an early adopter of an innovative tool that dynamically demonstrates reductions in flood exposure upon completion of designed Flood Protection Program projects

Two years ago, to the day, City of Virginia Beach voters passed a $567.5 million bond referendum in support of the Flood Protection Program (FPP). With today’s release of a new Flood Model Visualization & Exposure Tool, residents will begin to understand the value and benefits of The Ripple Effect, the City’s Flood Protection Program. Designed to inform residents about flood exposure risks before and after completion of FPP projects, it currently shows scenarios for Eastern Shore Drive Phase I projects. Ongoing updates will expand capabilities to show model results for additional FPP project areas.

“This is just one in a series of ongoing developments marking our progress since passage of the referendum two years ago,” said LJ Hansen, director of Virginia Beach Public Works. “Residents are beginning to see ripples of progress throughout the city. The Flood Model Visualization & Exposure Tool, while just in its first phase of development, demonstrates why this work matters.”

A few examples that FPP wheels are in motion include:

  • Cranes towering alongside I-264 where new tide gates are being installed for Windsor Woods
  • Excavation and construction activity for the new Bow Creek Stormwater Park
  • Preparations to increase drainage and storage capacity at Cape Henry Canal

What This Tool Can Do

The new tool helps demonstrate how this progress will benefit residents. Public Works commissioned the development of the Flood Model Visualization & Exposure Tool to serve as an interactive, user-friendly online resource for viewing the City’s flood model results. Flood model results help identify areas that may be affected by flooding. In this case, the new tool focuses on the project areas falling under the Flood Protection Program.

The Flood Model Visualization & Exposure Tool provides easily understood visual and graphic depictions of flood exposure risks. Think “Before and After.” The tool depicts exposure risks that exist prior to the start of projects under the Flood Protection Program as well as the anticipated reduced level of risk following the completion of those projects.

The new tool can demonstrate:

  • Results for a range of combined flood types, weather scenarios, and sea level rise
  • Side-by-side, before and after comparisons of current and future flood exposure risk
  • 360-degree photos showing pre- and post-project completion flood exposure
  • Data on total area in acres flooded, breaking out commercial and industrial areas
  • Data on critical facilities that might be exposed (schools, health facilities, fire/emergency response facilities, aboveground utilities)

Why It’s Important

The Flood Model Visualization & Exposure Tool helps residents conceptually understand their expected return on investment – not years from now; right now. It plainly shows how exposed certain areas of the city are should they be hit with a 10-year or a 100-year storm, for example, and how much more extensive that exposure is when paired with a sea level rise of three feet.

Projects under Phase I of the Flood Protection Program are still years from completion. The promise they hold for protecting residents, businesses and economic well-being is made clearer by the Flood Model Visualization & Exposure Tool.

Much More to Come

Despite everything the new tool can do already, it will only get better. As more Flood Protection Program projects reach the final design phase, additional after project implementation model results will be added to the tool. At launch, only those falling under the Eastern Shore Drive Phase I master project area were loaded in the tool. Model results from another project area will be added in the next few months.

To learn more about the Flood Model Visualization & Exposure Tool, visit

Screenshot of New Flood Visualization Tool

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