Project Title

An Integrated Dynamic Modeling Approach for Flooding of Coastal Transportation Infrastructure Assessment of Impacts on Emergency Operations

Collaborating Universities

Old Dominion University
1 Old Dominion University
Norfolk, VA 23529

University of Virginia
351 McCormick Dr.
P.O. Box 400742
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4742

Virginia Tech
1424 S Main St.
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Principal Investigator(s)

Tahvildari, Navid (ODU)

Cetin, Mecit (ODU)

Goodall, Jon (UVA)

Murray-Tuite, Pamela (VT)

Total Project Costs


Start Date


Completion Date



Low-lying coastal areas of Hampton Roads, Virginia are vulnerable to recurrent flooding. Flooding impacts are exacerbated by climate change and sea level rise as the region is experiencing the nation’s second highest rate of relative sea level rise. With climate change, the intensity and the frequency of storms are expected to increase and make the region more susceptible to coastal flooding. As such, addressing frequent flooding problems is the top priority in the City of Norfolk. Of particular interest is the flooding impact on access to emergency care facilities in the City. Sentara Norfolk General Hospital houses the only Level 1 trauma center in the region and is located near the Ghent neighborhood. During high tides, storm surge, and heavy rain situations, the transportation network near this area floods, leading to challenges in accessing the trauma center. These challenges can have life threatening implications. For major trauma victims, the “golden hour” is critical; during this hour immediately after the injury, medical treatment has the highest likelihood of preventing death. Transportation delays have clear detriments in this setting and the delays are only anticipated to worsen over the years without intervention. Therefore, it is critical to predict the flooding impact on access to the facility, and plan emergency operation such that alternatives exist for areas with disrupted access to the trauma center. To achieve this, reliable estimates of flooding depth, duration, and spatial distribution over the transportation infrastructure are needed. These estimates can then be used to optimally position mobile medical assets.

Research Goals and Objectives: This project will enhance the resiliency of the emergency operations in a floodprone coastal community. The work will particularly focus on approaches that ensure that access to emergency care is maintained in different areas of the city in the event that access to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital is disrupted due to flooding. We will integrate hydrodynamic and hydrologic modeling with measured data to provide real-time enhanced estimates of flooding intensity and pattern in the City of Norfolk. The primary goals of the project are to (1) examine the fidelity of integrated hydrodynamic-hydrologic modeling in predicting spatiotemporal distribution of flood in real-time, and (2) provide implementable framework/information for mobile medical asset allocations in flooding events. The specific objectives of the project are:

  • Obtain high resolution estimate of tidal and storm surge flooding depth over the study area
  • Account for long-term shoreline morphological change and assess its impact on upland flooding
  • Use the tidal/storm surge flood estimates from the hydrodynamic model and rainfall data to develop a data-driven flooding model that accounts for precipitation, tides, and storm surge
  • Conduct surveys/interviews to understand constraints, processes, and expectation of personnel involved in emergency operations to ensure the outcomes are provided in an implementable manner
  • Zoning the City of Norfolk based on the unlikelihood of reaching the trauma center within a specific time threshold
  • Optimized positioning of mobile medical assets based on zoning
  • Apply the developed optimization techniques to different flooding scenarios