Improving Flood Risk Estimates and Mitigation Policies in Coastal Louisiana under Deep Uncertainty

by David R. Johnson

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This dissertation consists of three essays that summarize the author's contributions to the study of flood risk in coastal Louisiana during and following its 2012 Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast, an action-oriented plan consisting of over one hundred projects designed to minimize future land loss and flood risk while simultaneously considering negative impacts on fisheries and other ecosystem services. The first paper introduces a new methodology for estimating the probability distribution of flooding on the interior of a ring levee/floodwall system. The second paper describes the Coastal Louisiana Risk Assessment (CLARA) model, of which the author was the lead developer. This model fully implements the methodology outlined in the first paper and was used to evaluate the impacts of candidate protection projects on flood risk. The third manuscript relates work done subsequent to the Master Plan's approval. It uses CLARA to develop a framework for allocating the $10.2 billion designated for nonstructural risk reduction measures such as elevating homes and floodproofing commercial and industrial properties.

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This document was submitted as a dissertation in June 2013 in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the doctoral degree in public policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. The faculty committee that supervised and approved the dissertation consisted of Henry H. Willis (Chair), Jordan R. Fischbach, and Nicholas E. Burger.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Dissertation series. Pardee RAND dissertations are produced by graduate fellows of the Pardee RAND Graduate School, the world's leading producer of Ph.D.'s in policy analysis. The dissertations are supervised, reviewed, and approved by a Pardee RAND faculty committee overseeing each dissertation.

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