PLoS One. 2022 Aug 3;17(8):e0271230. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0271230. eCollection 2022.
A spatially-resolved understanding of the intensity of a flood hazard is required for accurate predictions of infrastructure reliability and losses in the aftermath. Currently, researchers who wish to predict flood losses or infrastructure reliability following a flood usually rely on computationally intensive hydrodynamic modeling or on flood hazard maps (e.g., the 100-year floodplain) to build a spatially-resolved understanding of the flood’s intensity. However, both have specific limitations. The former requires both subject matter expertise to create the models and significant computation time, while the latter is a static metric that provides no variation among specific events. The objective of this work is to develop an integrated data-driven approach to rapidly predict flood damages using two emerging flood intensity heuristics, namely the Flood Peak Ratio (FPR) and NASA’s Giovanni Flooded Fraction (GFF). This study uses data on flood claims from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to proxy flood damage, along with other well-established flood exposure variables, such as regional slope and population. The approach uses statistical learning methods to generate predictive models at two spatial levels: nationwide and statewide for the entire contiguous United States. A variable importance analysis demonstrates the significance of FPR and GFF data in predicting flood damage. In addition, the model performance at the state-level was higher than the nationwide level analysis, indicating the effectiveness of both FPR and GFF models at the regional level. A data-driven approach to predict flood damage using the FPR and GFF data offer promise considering their relative simplicity, their reliance on publicly accessible data, and their comparatively fast computational speed.