Irma flood study underway, researchers asking for Charleston area flooding photos

Source: WCSC
Source: WCSC
Source: WCSC
Source: WCSC
Source: WCSC
Source: WCSC

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A Tropical Storm Irma flood study is underway in the Charleston region.

The purpose is to pinpoint why certain areas flood and to provide future solutions. It's a collaboration among local college students, researchers and scientists.

Flooding is an ongoing problem in Charleston whether it's a typical rainy day or a tropical storm.

Associate Professor of Geology at the College of Charleston Dr. Norman Levine is part of the group working on the Citizen's Science Project called Irma Floods. He's also the Director of the Lowcountry Hazards Center.

"The goal is to make a more resilient Charleston," Levine said.

They're asking Charleston area residents to send pictures of flooding after Irma with the approximate water depth, date and time taken to pinpoint what is causing flooding in a particular area.

"So that we can understand better how the flooding affected them whether or not it was storm surge, or rainfall or if it was due to maintenance issues like clogged drains," Levine said.

They do this by comparing the flood photo locations with flood maps they've created that predict where flooding occurs.

If the areas don't match the maps, they look to find what could be causing flooding which could include factors like poor drainage or wind.

"The goal is to find ways that we can mitigate to engineer with the water instead of against it, to really get ourselves to understand where and how we can alleviate some of the problems that we are going to be seeing," Levine said.

Graduate student Lucas Hernandez is working on the project and had Irma damage at his home.

"The foundation of my wall actually flooded," Hernandez said.

He's working towards a dual masters in Environmental Studies and Public Administration.

"I'm able to analyze how our policy makers adjust to these situations and the facts that we gather from all of this," Hernandez said.

They are planning to collect flooding photos from people who live in the Charleston region over the next two to three weeks.

You can use this Google Form to submit your photos or you can email your photos to and include the location, time, and approximate depth of water.

The time is an important component for data collection.

They say if you plan on sending photos and you're unsure of the time, you can check your cell phone because most track the date and time of photos taken.

The project is part of the Charleston Resilience Network, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Sea Grant, local government officials, the College of Charleston and The Citadel.

"This sort of study not only helps us on the hurricanes, but it really helps us with the day to day flooding we all know," Levine said.

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