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.
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.
The proposed mitigation projects developed by Brown and Caldwell Engineering were displayed on a Swannanoa Floods website developed and hosted by NEMAC.
Working with multiple regional partners, NEMAC compiled current and historical maps, putting them all into a consistent comparable scale.
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:
- The Asheville Floods of September 2004: An Overview | Jim Fox, Director of UNC Asheville's NEMAC
- Where Did All the Water Come From? A Look at the Tropical Storms Impacting Western NC in September 2004 | Doug Miller, Department Chair and Professor, UNC Asheville Department of Atmospheric Sciences
- National Weather Service Flood Warning Operations and Associated Gage Networks | Chris Horne, Observing Program Leader, National Weather Service
- Emergency Management Perspectives | Jerry Vehaun, Director, Buncombe County Emergency Services
- Landslide Hazard Studies in Western North Carolina: Findings, Lessons Learned, and Preparing for the Next Event | Rick Wooten, Senior Geologist, North Carolina Geological Survey
- Federal Research Investments: Precipitation Studies in the Southern Appalachians | Greg Cutrell, Research Associate, Duke University
- Flood Events and Flood Mitigation Efforts | McCray Coates, Stormwater Services Manager, City of Asheville
- Watershed Management, Modeling, and Projections | Carl McDonald, Design Manager and Nicholas Dierkes, Senior Engineer, Brown and Caldwell
- Tools and Technologies to Support Flood-Related Decision Making | Greg Dobson, Research Scientist and GIS Coordinator, UNC Asheville's NEMAC
To access the videos, click on the titles above.