Friday, April 13, 2018

URSP Student Blaize Johnson Researches and Compiles Information on Historic Floods in the National Capital Region

I became interested in conducting an OSCAR project following a conversation with my mentor, Dr. Ferreira. I was in Dr. Ferreira’s Water Resources Engineering class during Hurricane Harvey and the resulting destruction. We discussed issues faced by the D.C. region in relation to flooding and storm events. This conversation is what led to the idea of going back through history and documenting historical storms and flood events in order to help researchers better understand future flooding. I am excited to conduct this project for a few different reasons. This summer I will be interning with Lane Construction and working on the Northeast Boundary Tunnel. This project seeks to redress some of the flooding issues that D.C. currently faces. My hopes entering this project were that the research I did would provide a better understanding of the necessity for the project I will be working on this summer.

My weekly work is constantly changing. At the beginning of my project I focused on research. I began by compiling a list of all significant flood events in the region. I was initially hoping to assemble enough photographic and narrative evidence to be able to map flood extents. I quickly discovered that many flood events lacked the historical records to make this possible. On the other hand, my research did lead to quantitative data about many of these floods. I began indexing this data into a database in attempt to compile all relevant information in one place. With the backbone of my database completed, my current weekly goals are refining the database and gathering information on how to put my database online for people to view. Once this is completed I am hoping to return to the original purpose of my project and attempt to capture field data in order to map at least one historic flood.

This project has pushed me out of my comfort zone in a good way. I am constantly being challenged in my skill set and creativity. One of the unexpected things I have dealt with is the evolution of my project and the flexibility necessary to adapt.