Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Urban and Public Affairs

Degree Program

Urban and Public Affairs, PhD

Committee Chair

Simpson, David

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Kelly, Janet

Committee Member

Kelly, Janet

Committee Member

Koven, Steven

Committee Member

Morris, Mary Hallock

Author's Keywords

flooding; disaster studies; hazard research; hazard mitigation; disaster mitigation; mitigation planning


This dissertation is a comprehensive study of flood mitigation in the Mississippi River region as it is impacted by federal flood policies and programs. The study begins with a historical narrative of flooding events and flood mitigation that provided the impetus for federal flood mitigation in the late 1920s. The historical narrative sheds light on issues related to federalism, path dependency, dynamic growth, and socio-culture influence during the development of flood mitigation policy. Growth machine theory is used to describe how inequality and disparate access to political power has worked to exacerbate flood disaster outcomes and how this dynamic is legitimately perpetuated via federal policies. The second half of the dissertation is focused on a comprehensive evaluation of current mitigation planning mandates, programs, and planning tools. The dissertation is divided into six chapters, covering the historical development, theoretical implications, a critique of current practices, and future recommendations for federal flood mitigation. Chapter One provides a basic overview of the issues related to federal flood mitigation and the potential shortcomings of the current system. Chapter Two delves into a historical narrative that provides a rich account of early responses to flooding and how federal flood policy developed from these experiences. Chapter Three discusses the theoretical explanations as to why exacerbated disaster impacts are a result of policy actor influences. It also covers the literature involving present mitigation planning practices. Chapter Four describes the methods used in this study to comprehensively assess mitigation planning and programs. Chapter Five discusses the findings and implications derived from the comprehensive assessment of mitigation practices. Finally, Chapter Six provides a discussion of how current federal flood mitigation policy is influenced by growth machine dynamics as evidenced through these findings. It also provides insight for improving current practices and makes recommendations for further study.