Flood Risk in Philadelphia

Flooding is the number one natural hazard in Pennsylvania. The Wharton Risk Center conducts research and analysis on flood hazard mapping, risk communication, insurance affordability, as well as flood risk-reduction, to promote resiliency to climate change, flooding, and coastal hazards.

On February 10th and 11th, 2022, The Wharton Risk Center, with support from The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, hosted a two-part workshop on flood risk in the Philadelphia region. Panelists discussed what ways Philadelphia is already vulnerable to flooding, how climate change is exacerbating those vulnerabilities, and what tools, like hazard mitigation planning and insurance, are important for preparing and recovering from flood events.

Thursday, February 10th:

Changing Flood Risk in Philadelphia


  • Abby Sullivan, Environmental Scientist, Philadelphia Water Department
  • Carolyn Moseley, Executive Director, Eastwick United
  • Saleem Chapman, Chief Resilience Officer, City of Philadelphia
  • Clint Andrews, Professor of Urban Planning, Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University
  • Moderated by Chris Linn, Manager of the Office of Climate and Environment at DVRPC

Friday, February 11th:

Reducing Flood Risk and Impacts


  • Carolyn Kousky, Executive Director, Wharton Risk Center
  • Scott Williamson, Senior Vice President, Director of Analytics, Reinsurance Association of America
  • Mari Radford, Community Planning Lead, Mitigation Division, FEMA Region 3
  • Emma Giardina, Hazard Planning Coordinator, Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management
  • Moderated by: Amy Verbofsky, Manager of Healthy and Resilient Communities, DVRPC



With many regions of high flood risk, primarily located along the state’s rivers and streams and their tributaries, floods in Pennsylvania can also occur in lower elevation areas—even far from rivers and streams—as the result of heavy rainfall. This risk of rainfall related flooding is getting worse in the northeast of the United States as the planet warms. This Issue Brief offers an overview of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in addition to commenting on what may change with Risk Rating 2.0, the upcoming reframing of the program.

Read more.

Understanding Flood Risk in Southeastern Pennsylvania

Flooding is the #1 hazard in Pennsylvania. This two-part flyer can be used to understand what areas of the Philadelphia region are at risk from flooding, what to do to protect property at risk and how the National Flood Insurance Program is changing through FEMA’s Risk Rating 2.0.

Read it here.


Low- and moderate- income (LMI) households and communities suffer disproportionately from disasters, but there are a few policies or programs to help them achieve post-disaster financial resilience. This brief is intended to help policymakers begin the conversation about what new or supplemental policies could help LMI households in at-risk areas. In particular, it explores the critical role insurance can play in securing financial resilience.

Read more about the policy options.