Newswise — WASHINGTON— The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) is working with local communities to improve resilience to flood disasters. S&T announced today its latest community partnership with Howard County, Maryland and the National Weather Service (NWS).

 In July 2016, Elliott City, Maryland experienced a devastating flood when a severe thunderstorm dumped more than six inches of rain in only two hours.

 S&T’s Flood Apex Program will be working to support the community’s flood action plan by deploying 48 cutting-edge flood sensors for field testing at 16 different locations throughout the Tiber-Hudson watershed starting in late June 2018. Data collected from these sensors will be correlated to weather events. By better understanding how these events impact the watershed, efforts can be made to strengthen disaster preparedness and community resilience. 

“Through this new partnership with DHS and NWS, we are field-testing these sensors to collect valuable data that will help us close this informational gap and contribute to the development of a better flood warning alert system for the residents, businesses and property owners in the watershed,” said Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman. 

These new low-cost flood sensors are being developed through S&T’s Small Business Innovation Research program with three private sector partners: Evigia Systems Inc. of Ann Arbor, Michigan; Progeny Systems Corporation of Manassas, Virginia; Physical Optics Corporation of Torrance, California.

 “Howard County is an important community partner and pilot location for testing new technologies such as low cost flood sensors. It affords us an opportunity to improve local flood response and strengthen community resilience applying new technologies,” said Dr. David Alexander, DHS S&T Flood Apex Program Director.  “The lessons learned from the Ellicott City technology pilot will be invaluable to S&T’s research and development role in support of FEMA allowing us to better protect communities nationwide.”

In addition to Howard County, Maryland, S&T is working with several other communities around the country to assist with their own unique flood potential circumstances. S&T Flood Apex has begun pilots with Charlotte-Mecklenburg (North Carolina) Storm Water Services and the Kentucky Department of Water to deploy and test low-cost flood sensors. “Each community has its own unique flooding challenges and what we learn from each of these unique environments will help us in other communities around the nation.”

The Ellicott City flood sensors will stay in place for six to 12 months. The information collected from these sensors will be used to help the Federal Emergency Management Agency in its efforts to protect communities nationwide from flood risk. 

You can watch the full press conference here: