Featured Innovation: A Trusted Advisor In A Trying Time

When Hurricane Florence threatened and then hit the Carolinas, Freese and Nichols helped guide the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources’ Flood Mitigation Program before, during and after the storm.

Freese and Nichols staff worked around the clock to develop a large hydraulic model to help the DNR inform and manage state emergency resources. Our team created new scripting procedures and data capture tools to automatically download and analyze hydrologic data.

The model was reviewed and updated continuously to obtain quick and accurate results. The innovative tools and methods developed during Hurricane Florence enabled Freese and Nichols to hydraulically model 4.5 million acres – approximately one-quarter of South Carolina – in less than two days without preprocessed data readily available.

Sustainable Features

Our team consulted with state and federal officials daily, offering guidance that assisted their decisions on sending alerts and staging law enforcement resources in the days prior to and the weeks following landfall.

Using publicly available data, our team used HEC-RAS 2D simulation capabilities to apply direct rainfall onto the 7,000-square mile study area and determine the watershed’s hydraulic response to the forecasted and observed precipitation.

A previous model for this effort did not exist. We built the model such that DNR could continue to improve upon our foundation and use the model for future events.

Our focused and coordinated modeling efforts helped to drastically reduce the number of water rescues by state emergency response personnel during flooding caused by Hurricane Florence as compared to Hurricane Matthew in 2016.