Safe Shelter Hurricane Shelter Vulnerability Assessment
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FDEP Project #22RRE04:
Cara Woods Serra, AICP, CFM
Comprehensive Resiliency Planner
(727) 570-5151 ext. 28
(727) 570-5151 ext. 70
Creating Safe Shelters for the Future
According to the Statewide Emergency Shelter Plans (SESP) report from the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM), the Tampa Bay region has a deficit of hurricane shelter spaces.
To increase understanding of how future flood risks and estimated population growth might impact shelter space availability and needs, the TBRPC created the Safe Shelter Tampa Bay project with a grant from FDEP Resilient Florida program.
Safe Shelter encompassed the Tampa Bay Regional Resilience Coalition counties and engaged emergency management staff in workshops. An inundation assessment was conducted of 186 shelter locations using FDEP-defined sea level rise (SLR) scenarios and flood hazards.
The analysis found that no shelter locations were projected to be inundated by sea level rise alone in 2040 or 2070. Additionally, no shelters were risk to storm surge from Category 1 and 2 combined with SLR through 2070. However, shelters in several counties will be at risk to Category 3 and 4 storms by 2040, when combined with NOAA Intermediate High.
The TBRPC’s project identified that nearly 54,000 additional shelter spaces will be needed by 2040 to replace shelters that will be at risk to future storm surge (Cat. 4/NOAA IH) and meet population growth.
Safe Shelter Hurricane Vulnerability Assessment
Understanding which Critical Community and Emergency Facilities (CCEF) serving as hurricane shelters in the Tampa Bay Region are at risk of future sea level rise is a key need. The region is one of three in the state with a substantial deficit of shelter spaces, defined in the State of Florida 2020 Shelter Retrofit report. Hillsborough is the only county in the region which has a surplus of General Population (GP) shelter spaces with approximately 24,993 spaces at 20 square feet per person. The other six counties have a combined deficit of 57,168 GP shelter spaces.
Conducting a regionwide vulnerability assessment will define inundation threats to current shelters from sea level rise and combined storm surge. The project will also identify prospective buildings in low-risk areas which can serve as potential future shelters. When appropriately located, designed and constructed, the following types of public facilities are considered suitable for use as public hurricane evacuation shelters:
- Community and civic centers
- Meeting halls and auditoriums
- Libraries with training or education rooms,
- Gymnasiums, cafeterias and dining areas,
- Open floor multipurpose facilities,
- Exhibition halls, sports arenas, field houses,
- Conference and training centers
Stakeholder workshops were held on March 24th and May 20th of 2022 with local government staff and other stakeholders to discuss the data, risks, growth patterns and define local goals for increasing GP shelter spaces and appropriate buildings to diversify shelters in each jurisdiction. The vulnerability analysis will be conducted for Sea Level Rise in 2040 and 2070 for the NOAA Intermediate Low and Intermediate High scenarios. The sea level rise scenarios will be combined with High Tide Flooding and storm surge for Categories 1-5 to produce the following outputs:
- Regional vulnerability analysis of current shelters and other CCEF assets
- Data tables, shapefiles and maps of asset vulnerability to SLR and flooding;
- Stakeholder prioritized project lists.
The long-term benefits include enhanced local vulnerability assessments, regional shelter analysis, Local Mitigation Strategy updates, and FDEM shelter retrofit planning