flood-plains DC

DC Flood Plains Map – click to enlarge

Background Research

The process began with a single question: “Who would be in charge of the National Treasures in the event of a major catastrophe?” Could one entity would take the lead role in creating a post-disaster plan for all of the historic structure and monuments along the National Mall area? Research was (and continues to be) conducted on the existing public documents pertaining to disaster response in the Washington DC Metro area. The resources examined include the following:

  • Federal Triangle Stormwater Drainage Study, October 2011
  • Programmatic Agreement Among The National Park Service,
  • National Preparedness Goal – Homeland Security 2011
  • The District of Columbia State Historic Preservation Officer, and The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation Regarding The National Mall Plan Washington, D.C.
  • National Monuments and Icons Sector-Specific Plan: An Annex to the National Infrastructure Protection Plan, 2010

The conclusion was that there is no single party in charge over all these structures and treasures. The overseeing agency for each monument or building would be responsible for their respective structures. The Smithsonian does have a building disaster plan in place as well as the other entities that oversee their respective structures along the National Mall. In August 2013, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Emergency Management, Intergovernmental Relations, and the District of Columbia examined how prepared the region is for the next disaster. FEMA’s Office of National Capital Region Coordination oversees and coordinates security and emergency management in the area.

Many of the Treasures rely on State or local law enforcement agencies to respond and provide support during special events or large incidents. It is imperative that the asset managers have agreements in place, preferably written, detailing the assistance available and the mechanics of how the assistance will flow in a smooth and orderly manner.

The following specific laws & charters apply to the various agencies overseeing the “treasures”:

  • Antiquities Act of 1906
  • 16 U.S.C. 1, National Park Service Organic Act
  • 16 U.S.C. 1a-6, General Authorities Act of 1970
  • 16 U.S.C. 1a-6, 43 U.S.C. 1733, 16 U.S.C. 7421, DOI Cross-Designation Agreements-Interagency Agreement
  • 36 CFR 2.32
  • 16 U.S.C. 461, National Historic Sites Act of 1935
  • 16 U.S.C. 470, National Historic Preservation Act of 1966
  • Smithsonian Institution –40 U.S.C. 6301-6307

Resilience Research

Committee on Increasing National Resilience to Hazards and Disasters; Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy; The National Academies. 2012.

Disaster Resilience: a National Imperative. Washington: The National Academies Press.

H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics, and the Environment. 2002.

Human links to coastal disasters. Washington: The Heinz Center.

National Climate Assessment. 2009. National Climate Change. Northeast. 2012. Scenarios for climate change, sea level rise.

NYS 2100 Commission. 2013. Recommendations to Improve the Strength and Resilience of the Empire State’sInfrastructure. NY.

Renaud, Fabrice G. , Sudmeier-Rieux, Karen, and Marisol Estrella.2013. The Role of Ecosystems in Disaster Risk Reduction. UN University Press. ISBN-13: 978-92-808- 1221-3.

Wilbanks, I. and S. Fernandez. 2012. Climate change and infrastructure, urban systems, and vulnerabilities. Technical Report for the U.S. Department of Energy in Support of the National Climate Assessment.

EPA. 2013. Our Built and Natural Environments: A Technical Review of the Interactions Among Land Use, Transportation, and Environmental Quality, Second edition. Washington, D.C.: EPA.

Flood Risk Data


NOAA’s Sea Level Rise Viewer

NOAA’s Digital Coast

Climate Change  Data

U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit

Climate Central Surging Seas Tool

AIA’s curated list of Hazard Mitigation, Climate Adaptation, and Community Resilience Design Guidance tools