Swannanoa Flood Risk Management Project

Community outreach and support to examine population growth, development, and flooding
Photo of flood waters in Asheville, 2004

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 River Watershed, which includes the communities of Montreat, Black Mountain, Swannanoa, Asheville, and Biltmore Village. Floods produced by these hurricanes and subsequent heavy rainfall events demonstrate a need to reduce flood risks to human life and property within the watershed.

Community Collaboration

The Swannanoa Flood Damage Reduction Task Force formed after the 2004 floods. Meeting often at the NEMAC Engagement Site and supported by NEMAC and RENCI tools, the task force called for the Swannanoa Flood Risk Management Project.

Flood Tour Book

NEMAC helped to develop three public driving tours that covered the Swannanoa Watershed, Black Mountain, and the Biltmore area. 

Project Website

The proposed mitigation projects developed by Brown and Caldwell Engineering were displayed on a Swannanoa Floods website developed and hosted by NEMAC.

GIS Maps

Working with multiple regional partners, NEMAC compiled current and historical maps, putting them all into a consistent comparable scale.

Museum Exhibit

In 2010, the Swannanoa Valley Museum in Black Mountain displayed an exhibit entitled “Protecting Our Natural Scenic Beauty: A Flood Runs Through It” designed by NEMAC staff. The exhibit included visual, hands-on, and take-away components focusing on historic floods and storm tracks in the Swannanoa Watershed (with special emphasis on the 2004 flood caused by Hurricanes Frances and Ivan), as well as potential projects that would decrease future flood damage. The exhibit was sponsored by Buncombe County, the City of Asheville, the Town of Black Mountain, and RENCI at UNC Asheville. The exhibit was displayed from April 10 until October 31, 2010.

Other Flood Mitigation Resources

Although created through other RENCI projects, the Buncombe County Multi-Hazard Risk Tool and the Water in Western North Carolina film series help to educate the public and provide decision-making support on a local scale.


On September 5, 2014, a symposium entitled The Asheville Floods of September 2004: 10 Years of Action, Research, and Mitigation was presented by UNC Asheville's NEMAC and Atmospheric Sciences Department on the campus of UNC Asheville. A video archive of the presentations from the symposium are available from UNC Asheville.

Presented in three volumes, the video archive contains:




To access the videos, click on the titles above.