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.
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.
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 â€œdare to scareâ€� people, and other times when we need the courage to talk when uncertain.
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.
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 .
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 .
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 http://charmeck.org/stormwater/basics/Pages/MasterPlansandLongTermStrategies.aspx
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.
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).
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