Due to the catastrophic flooding in the Memphis metropolitan area in 2011, Shelby County was selected as an eligible applicant to the National Disaster Resilience Competition, a program sponsored by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Sasaki partnered closely with Shelby County to craft a winning proposal that outlines resiliency strategies that will prepare the area for future natural disasters. As a result of the proposal, HUD awarded $60.4 million to the County.
Four projects were funded with the award money. Sasaki is involved with three of those four projects:
Having secured funding, the team has worked with Shelby County to develop all the projects in unison.
The design philosophy for the plan is “Making Room for the River.” The powerful Mississippi River and its tributaries, are economic engines of the region that provide recreational and community building opportunities, but they also put communities at risk during natural disasters. This project focuses on helping communities to rebuild from the 2011 flood damages and to weather future storms with less damage.
The resilience plan is broken down into three main goals: Protect, Restore, and Empower.
Sasaki worked with Barge Design Solutions and Dalhoff Thomas Design studio to develop the visioning and master plan for the project. We will continue to work with these firms through implementation to ensure continuity between master plan and built work. The project is currently in the design documentation phase.
The project is located near the confluence of the Mississippi River and the South Cypress Creek at the West Junction neighborhood, which was profoundly affected by the 2010 flooding. Many homes within the neighborhood were built in the flood zone and were severely damaged or destroyed in the flood. This damage has led to a high vacancy rate—68% of properties in the South Cypress Creek neighborhood are vacant or abandoned.
The team developed a resilience framework and goals based around: Leadership & Development strategies, Health & Well-being, Infrastructure & Environment, and Economy & Society. Those goals translated to a project scope that seeks to address vulnerable housing, public infrastructure and amenities, various strategies around vacant lots that include community gardening, and stream restoration and creative stormwater strategies. Throughout the process, the team has worked with the public to better understand the community’s needs and goals.
The plan for the Big Creek Resilience Project calls for flood mitigation strategies that protect the Naval Support Activity Mid-South, a major federal airbase that was significantly damaged in the 2010 floods. Additionally, the plan makes way for recreational, economic, and other environmental goals.
The main facet of the plan is a major park that doubles as a floodplain. This floodplain will redirect and retain flood waters, protecting the airbase and surrounding community from inundation. Upon completion in 2022, this park will provide recreational and educational amenities in a natural setting, and serve as a critical link in regional hydrology and greenway systems.