In September 2004, communities in Western North Carolina were devastated by flooding caused by Hurricanes Frances and Ivan. One of the hardest hit areas was the Swannanoa Watershed, which includes the communities of Montreat, Black Mountain, Swannanoa, Asheville, and Biltmore Village. Floods produced by these hurricanes and subsequent heavy rainfall events demonstrated a need to reduce flood risks to human life and property within the watershed. From December 2005 through August 2006, a planning study was conducted to identify and prioritize flood damage reduction projects for implementation in the community. This planning study was conducted by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources Division of Water Resources and stakeholders from Biltmore Village, the City of Asheville, and the Swannanoa Watershed with assistance of a project consultant.
As a result of this study, the Asheville City Council appointed a Flood Damage Reduction Task Force (FDRTF), with a mission “to establish a regional approach in developing a long-range plan based on best practices models to protect our floodplains/floodways and manage our watershed.” The FDRTF, comprised of representatives from City and County staff, universities, local businesses, non-profit organizations, and other local, county, and state agencies, spent the next four years raising awareness, developing ideas, and seeking funding to aid our community. NEMAC staffed one of the FDRTF positions, and also provided GIS and other geospatial tools that the FDRTF was able to use as it provided guidance on mitigation and other planning efforts to help alleviate impacts from future flood events.