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Webinars Supporting Flood Risk Reduction

Rapid Assessment of Flooding Toot (RAFT)

On June 25, 2015, Ryan Cahill, a hydraulic engineer from USACE Portland District, addressed the Oregon Silver Jackets Team's development of a Rapid Assessment of Flooding Tool (RAFT) that was highlighted in the spring issue of the Silver Jackets newsletter. The interactive, real-time tool characterizes the severity of forecasted flooding across the state. The tool synthesizes flood frequency data from various federal partners, as well as flood forecasts from NWS Forecast Center, and depicts expected severity of flooding.

Ryan explained the motivation behind RAFT, described the structure, identified the uses, and demonstrated its applications. The RAFT is a prime example of agencies working together to produces a better product.

The recorded session (mp3, 11.1 MB) and the presentation (pdf, 2.53 MB) including Ryan Cahill's bio (pdf, 75 KB) are available.

Public Involvement in Flood Risk Management Pilot Program Results

On June 11, 2015, the Silver Jackets program hosted a webinar to present the results of a two-year pilot program to increase public involvement in flood risk management activities. Maria Lantz with the USACE Institute of Water Resources (IWR) organized and introduced a panel to discuss the results. The panel members included: Bruce Laclereque, Flood Control Program Manager from Santa Cruz County, CA; Joel Benegar, Senior Program Planner from San Francisco District, Chad Bunger, Senior Planner with the City of Manhattan, KA; Quana Higgins, Tribal Liaison and Lead Planner for the Los Angeles District; and Eileen Takata, a Watershed Program Manager from USACE IWR.

The pilot program was prefaced on the experts' conclusions that, if we increase engagement with communities in which we are trying to reduce risks, we will achieve better outcomes. The webinar focused on the results of the program and featured specific activities from several of the projects. The presenters focused on successes, as well barriers, to increasing community engagement.

The presentation (pdf, 1.53 MB), the recorded session (mp3, 11.1 MB), and the individual bios (pdf, 131 KB) of each of the panelist are available.

Risk Communication

On March 31, 2015, Dr. Charles Yoe, Professor of Economics at Notre Dame of Maryland University, presented for the Silver Jackets community a webinar on Risk Communication and its application to flood risk management. Dr. Yoe offered his perspective on key aspects defining risk communication, and how these can lead to better risk management decisions. He gave case examples of effective risk communication.

He described the common disconnects between experts and consumers, as well as the best approach to explaining technical information to the public. He was bold in stating that there are times when we need to “dare to scare� people, and other times when we need the courage to talk when uncertain.

His excellent PowerPoint presentation (pdf, 9.07 MB) is available as well as the recorded session (mp3, 13.9 MB).

Social Science Study on Effective Flood Risk Managing

On November 12, 2014, Rachel Hogan Carr, the Director of the Nurture Nature Center, presented findings from a recent social science study on communications.

Emergency managers and others working in flood-prone communities know only too well that getting residents to evacuate and take the right action during a flood event can be difficult. Even with highly accurate and timely data available from the National Weather Service, people often don’t take steps to prepare and evacuate prior to a major flood event.

Findings from the Nurture Nature Center resulted in recommendations about how the National Weather Service and others can improve its flood forecast and warning tools so that they are easier to understand and more likely to motivate people to take protective actions. The project, funded by NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmosphere Research, is one of ten projects studying decision-making during extreme weather events.

See the PowerPoint webinar presentation (pdf, 4.1 MB) and the recording (mp3, 30.0 MB) for details.

Mobile Information Collection Application (MICA) System

In a May 13, 2014, SJ webinar, Robert Walker from the USACE Engineering Research and Design Center provided an overview of the Mobile Information Collection Application system using smartphones. The one-hour presentation generated a lot of interest and follow-up questions. The presentation (pdf, 1.85 MB) is available. The web-based video is available here You are leaving a Federal Government web site. Click icon for more information..

MICA has proven to be an excellent tool for those in the field and for those that support them. Pictures, videos, notes, or custom form data can be captured digitally from the start and available for analysis immediately, saving hours of writing on forms and typing data into spreadsheets.

Although the system has been used primarily by the Corps to collect information on situational awareness, debris removal, and flood damage to levees and infrastructure, there are several other potential uses. Floodplain managers and SJ team members from multiple agencies in a post disaster environment could potentially use the MICA tool to collect high-water data, identify substantially damaged buildings, track past mitigation projects, and flag structures for future mitigation projects.

Risk Communication and the Nebraska Silver Jackets Team

On December 12, 2013, a webinar was held to showcase the Nebraska Silver Jackets team's experience and methods used to broadly communicate risk, provide an educational levee safety seminar for sponsors and stakeholders, and demonstrate the effectiveness of efforts. See the PowerPoint presentations: Welcome (pdf, 325 KB), Webinar Slides (pdf, 2.23 MB) and audio recording (mp3, 11.7 MB).

With so many agencies involved with flood risk management, emergency response, levee safety, and water resources, the diversity of flood risk messages available to the public can be overwhelming, and no single agency or website provides the public with a full understanding of flood risk management. To address this need, several agencies have teamed up through Nebraska Silver Jackets to more efficiently get the message out. A unique and innovative outcome is the new website You are leaving a Federal Government web site. Click icon for more information..

The team also hosted a well-attended and well-received educational seminar for levee sponsors and stakeholders. As shown through pre- and post-tests, the interagency group of presenters increased understanding of key levee safety concepts, the levee safety process, evolution of levee safety laws and programs, and risk treatment methods.

The webinar consisted of presentations from four panelists who worked on these projects: Crystal Lesmesiter from the Nebraska DNR, Lori Laster from the Papio Missouri River Natural Resource District, and Eileen Williamson and Tony Krause from USACE Omaha District.

NOAA's National Weather Service Atlas 14 Webinar

Precipitation frequency estimates are often used in engineering design with little understanding of how they have been developed or of the uncertainties associated with them. On October 31, 2013, a webinar served as a briefing on NOAA's work on updating precipitation frequency estimates for various areas of the country, as depicted in the different volumes of NOAA's Atlas 14. Experts from NOAA also described the tools and techniques used in the preparation of Atlas 14.

Atlas 14, developed by NOAA's National Weather Service on behalf of the federal government, is an electronic publication with many artifacts, including rainfall amounts used in engineering design. NOAA Atlas 14 precipitation frequency estimates are used in a wide variety of design and planning activities under federal, state, and local regulations. For example, they are used in the design of drainage for highways, culverts, bridges, parking lots; in sizing sewer and stormwater infrastructure; and in estimating the amount of runoff and volume of detention basins. Water resources engineers use them to delineate floodplains, and they are consequently used to regulate the development in floodplains as part of the National Flood Insurance Program.

Ms. Sandra Pavlovic, P.E. from Syneren Technologies Corporation representing the Hydrometeorological Design Studies Center, Office of Hydrologic Development NOAA's National Weather Service, was the primary presenter. A PowerPoint presentation (pdf, 9.64 MB) is available.

Community-based Hydrologic Warning Systems

On Wednesday, March 27th, an educational webinar was offered to Silver Jackets team members and associated flood risk managers on Community-based Hydrologic Warning Systems.

Community-based Hydrologic Warning Systems (CHWS) provide a cost effective non-structural flood risk reduction strategy when properly designed and implemented. Whether developing a project to address coastal concerns, dam safety, river flooding or a variety of other hydrologic hazards, understanding the technology available to capture and effectively communicate associated risk is critical to the success of the CHWS. The 90 minutes presentation examined the necessary components of a CHWS, strategies for implementation of a CHWS, and potential benefits beyond saving lives and property. This webinar was presented by the National Hydrologic Warning Council (NHWC), whose membership includes flood-warning professionals, service providers, and vendors in the United States and abroad.

Glenn Austin, Executive Director of the National Hydrologic Warning Council, introduced the topic and highlight some successes, followed by Ben Pratt and Mike Sprague, instructors for CHWS, who described in more detail the functional parts and its applications. The presentation (pdf, 8.39 MB) is accessible for all to review.

Natural Hazard Mitigation Association’s Resilient Neighbors Network

In early 2012, the Natural Hazard Mitigation Association launched a special program named Resilient Neighbors Network (RNN) to link together grassroots communities that are working to become safer, disaster-resilient, and sustainable. NHMA has been working with ten pilot communities around the USA to create a peer-to-peer sharing network in order to enable grassroots communities to work together to strengthen and expand local hazard-mitigation programs. A February 1, 2013 webinar that was organized by NHMA and USACE gives an overview of the RNN initiative for Silver Jackets teams and other state/federal flood risk groups.

The webinar began with a description of the RNN initiative provided by Alessandra Jerolleman and then showcased the efforts of two of these communities. Tim Trautman from Charlotte-Mecklenburg shared information on his community’s Risk Assessment and Risk Reduction Plan and demonstrated a digital web-based data management product. More information on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg project can be found at You are leaving a Federal Government web site. Click icon for more information.

Tim Lovell from Tulsa shared information on Tulsa Partners, a nonprofit organization that grew out Tulsa's successful stormwater management, Project Impact and Citizen Corps programs. He discussed Tulsa's current collaborative endeavors, including a new project with the Oklahoma Silver Jackets program.

The supporting presentation for the 60 minute RNN webinar can be viewed (pdf, 4.23 MB). For more information on RNN, Alessandra Jerolleman form NHMA can be contacted at

RiskMAP and North Carolina’s Digital Flood Risk Implementation

In 1999, Hurricane Floyd flooded thousands of square miles of eastern North Carolina and left thousands of people homeless. This disaster highlighted North Carolina’s vulnerability to natural disasters and the need for accurate, up-to-date floodplain maps for safer floodplain development standards. In a July 17th webinar hosted by FEMA and USACE, John Dorman, the Director of the Geospatial and Technology Management Office, North Carolina’s Department of Public Safety, walked the audience through the progress that the state has made since 2000. With the support of FEMA and other federal and state agencies, the state has implemented a statewide digital risk management vision. The vision eliminated the need for the cartographic production of DFIRMS, developed a statewide building footprint dataset of 5.2 million structures, surveyed 165,000 first floor elevations and 4,100 miles of coastal roadway elevations, and established an interactive flood hazard risk management website. The entertaining presentation can be downloaded here (pdf, 20.7 MB).

Take Flood Awareness to Action with NFIP FloodSmart Tools

FloodSmart has tools and information that will make it easier for you to communicate flood risk and flood insurance. A 30 minute webinar was jointly presented by FEMA and USACE on Wednesday, July 11, 2012 for the state Silver Jackets teams and other state/federal flood risk managers. As flood maps are updated, levee statuses change, and coastal initiatives get underway, talking to communities about flood risk can be challenging. To help communicate the changing risks, flood risk managers need a range of tools. In this webinar, FloodSmart shareed information gained about communicating flood risk, demonstrated interactive tools, and showed new features available on These features include numerous website widgets, testimonial videos, a levee simulator, and an interactive risk profile - most of which can be shared on your website(s). Webinar participants observed that they can immediately integrate these resources into their outreach strategy and be better prepared to talk about flood risks in communities. The PowerPoint presentation and a supporting handout can be found at:

For hands-on exposure to the FloodSmart tools, please go directly to This link leaves this site for another Federal Government web site..

Community Rating System Webinar

The Community Rating System (CRS) is a very helpful tool that floodplain managers can leverage to help reduce flood risks. In the context of shared responsibility, the CRS program recognizes local community action to manage risk, and provides a unique opportunity for communities to lessen the cost of National Flood Insurance premiums paid by their residents. CRS provides incentives in the form of reduced flood insurance rates to recognized communities that take further action to manage their flood risks beyond those minimum steps required by the National Flood Insurance Program.

On September 20, 2011, Bill Lesser from FEMA HQ was the feature presenter for a webinar cosponsored by FEMA and the USACE on the basics of CRS and how it overlaps with the goals of the Silver Jackets teams. Al Goodman from the State of Mississippi presented on CRS User Groups as well as offered the state perspective. Stephanie Bray from USACE emphasized the advantages of Silver Jackets involvement with the CRS program. The hour long webinar was recorded and can be found at This link leaves this site for another Federal Government web site..

On May 1, 2012, the Silver Jackets Program hosted a follow-up webinar on CRS titled: How the changes in the CRS can affect your agency. This webinar reviewed the basics of the program and then focused on expected changes to the program in the next few months when a new Coordinator's Manual will be adopted. The purpose of the webinar was to encourage agencies to get involved by offering communities technical assistance and prepare the agencies if the communities ask for help in meeting the revised requirements or increasing CRS credit. Stephanie Bray from USACE, Bill Lesser from FEMA, Greg Main from Indiana DNR, and two FEMA consultants, French Wetmore and Al Goodman, presented for an hour followed up with a Q&A. The PowerPoint slides supporting the webinar can be found here (pdf, 1.30 MB).

USACE/NRCS Partnership Handbook, a Field Guide to Working Together Toward a Shared Goal.

As part of the continued collaborative effort between the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a handbook for field staff has been developed to stimulate and facilitate active cooperation and collaboration. The handbook contains basic information about each agency's missions, programs, capabilities, and modes of operation. Case studies and examples are included to illustrate what has worked in the past and where further collaboration and problem solving are needed to reach better results in the future. More details on the partnership can be found at This link leaves this site for another Federal Government web site.. A webinar was held April 26, 2011.

USACE Levee Safety Program and Development of Engineering Circular

USACE is developing an Engineer Circular (EC) that will provide policy and guidance for the USACE Levee Safety Program. Over the course of this year, webinars have been held to gather input from a variety of stakeholders including those within USACE and from other federal, state, and local stakeholders with an interest in levee safety. Last December the first in the series of webinars was held and covered the general concepts about the Levee Safety Program including the vision, draft guiding principles, and suggested portfolio management process as well as the process used to develop the EC.

In February the second in the series of webinars was held and covered the Levee Safety Program's routine activities including portfolio management, routine inspections, periodic inspections, levee screening and safety classification, risk communication, operations and maintenance, incident reporting and the national levee database.

The third in the series of webinars was conducted in March and addressed non-routine activities, interim risk reduction measures, issue evaluation studies and levee safety risk management studies. These webinars can be revisited at This link leaves this site for another Federal Government web site.

ASFPM Webinar on the State of Flood Risk Reduction in the US…Are We Reducing Risk or Incentivizing It?

A webinar consisting of several leaders including Sandra Knight, Deputy Assistant Administrator of Mitigation for FEMA, Alex Dornstauder, Deputy Director of Homeland Security from USACE, Larry Larson, Executive Director of ASPFM, James Fiedler, President of National Association of Flood and Stormwater Management Agencies, and Andrew Fahlund, Senior Vice President for Conservation from American Rivers was held May 4, 2011. The topics of discussion were the status of flood risk management and the prognosis for moving the effects in a sustainable direction that reduces risk and gradually restores the ecological services performed by our nation's floodplains. A recording of the webinar can be found at You are leaving a Federal Government web site. Click icon for more information..

Mapping, Assessment, and Planning (Risk MAP)

Doug Bellomo, Director of the Risk Analysis Division from FEMA, indentified common ground with the Silver Jackets teams. This webinar introduced Risk MAP, focused on its public engagement pieces, outlined some of the mutual benefits stemming from a strong Silver Jackets/Risk MAP linkage, and discussed how the Public Participation Communities of Practice could be a resource for those running into implementation challenges.

Effective public engagement and risk communication are keys to increasing awareness and persuading people to act to reduce their current or future risk. Neighboring communities in a watershed must work together to effectively manage flood risk. Flood risk isn't something that can be done effectively along political boundaries. The webinar was held April 28, 2011. Doug Bellomo Presentation (pdf, 1.45 MB).

Sustainability with U.S. Department of HUD

A webinar on the US Department of HUD's Community Sustainability initiative was held June 2, 2011. It was sponsored by HUD, FEMA, USACE and the Natural Hazards Mitigation Association (NHMA). The information exchange will allow Silver Jackets team members and HUD Sustainability Officers to identify opportunities to leverage resources to meet common goals in order to strengthen community resiliency through community mitigation planning and projects. The feature presenter was Brian Gillen, the HUD Region V Sustainability Officer. The topics he covered included: an overview of the HUD Sustainability Office goals, a snapshot of various funding programs, a description of the current federal sustainable planning network, and examples of mitigation projects supported by HUD funding.

In addition there was a presentation by Ed Thomas, President of NHMA, summarizing the interagency patchwork quilt approach to addressing a community's long-term objectives while building livable, sustainable communities. Ed emphasized that leveraging multiple programs can create a synergy more beneficial than a project developed by any agency working alone. The supporting paper entitled "Planning and Building Livable, Safe and Sustainable Communities: the Patchwork Quilt Approach" (pdf, 1.10 MB) can be accessed.

All Federal and state agency representatives who have an interest in flood risk management and mitigation will find this webinar useful. The webinar was recorded and can be access at This link leaves this site for another Federal Government web site..



Revised 29 June 2015