Flood Inundation and Response System (FIRST) was developed for the City of Houston as an end-to-end radar-based flood assessment and mapping tool for critical infrastructure. Facilities include hospitals, nursing homes, fire stations and storm shelters. The system allows for early warning with real-time visualizations of critical hotspots and inundated areas during rainfall events. This system will assist the City of Houston Health Department (COH) in emergency operations, including emergency closures and evacuation, as well as, allow the public to assess their own individual flood risk during storm events.

FIRST utilizes 15 minute radar rainfall data for four watersheds in Houston (Brays Bayou, White Oak Bayou, Hunting Bayou, and Sims Bayou) and displays the current rainfall intensity visually on the website homepage. If the total rainfall in a 24 hour time period surpasses 5 inches in any of these regions, the predicted flood inundation will be shown on the homepage. These flood maps are selected from a floodplain map library (FPML) for each of these watersheds that best matches the current rainfall conditions.

The FPML consists of 49 maps for each watershed which represent variable rainfall upstream and downstream ranging from 5 inches to 18 inches. These maps were created using advanced hydraulic and hydrologic models including HEC-HMS and HEC-RAS to be representative of flood conditions under varying amounts of rainfall.

For more information about the selected watersheds and the FIRST grant, please click here.