The storm surge from Hurricane Isaac drove home once again that flooding can pose as great a problem as driving winds. A new FEMA pilot program is designed to raise awareness of flooding threats, and the agency is seeking county participants.
Floods are the most common and costly natural disaster in the country, and significant opportunities exist for individuals to prevent flood damage. FEMA and seven other federal agencies concerned about flood risk are working with local officials to help their residents do just that. Together, this federal working group is developing a turnkey outreach initiative to assist local officials in elevating the issue of flood risk within their communities. The initiative, “Know Your Line: Be Flood Aware,” will help communities showcase their local history of flooding and motivate residents to take action.
Know Your Line encourages local officials to post high-water-mark signs in prominent places throughout their community, for example on county courthouses, city halls, libraries or tourist attractions, to identify how high flood waters have risen in the past. Communities will then be encouraged to hold a high-profile event to announce the initiative, followed by supporting activities to continue to remind residents of their flood risk and prompt them to take steps to reduce it.
A Call to Action
To gain local officials’ perspectives on the elements of the Know Your Line initiative, FEMA and its partners are preparing to launch up to six pilots this fall. Pilot communities will be the first to review the initiative’s tools and materials and will provide insight into the campaign prior to the national roll-out.
Members of the federal working group will work with the pilot communities to tailor a strategy and materials to suit the community’s needs, provide recommendations and consultation on implementation activities, and provide recognition to pilot participants online and at conference and trade association meetings.
Following the pilots, the working group will further refine the approach and then offer the Know Your Line initiative’s strategy, tools, and relationships to communities nationwide.
Over 30 years (the length of a typical mortgage), there is a 26 percent chance of a 100-year or greater flood occurring. But residents and businesses often take few, if any, steps to protect themselves from these potentially life-changing events, opting instead to trust that, “It won’t happen here.”
The majority of local officials understand that flooding not only can “happen here,” it likely has happened. Whether a community experienced severe flooding a century ago or just last spring, showcasing the dramatic outcome of a community’s most severe flood can offer a powerful testimony and daily reminder to residents and businesses — empowering them to understand the consequences of flooding and reduce their risks before the next one.
A Unique Opportunity
FEMA found through its nationwide survey of homeowners that citizens expect to hear about flooding from their local officials. As a result, local officials have a unique opportunity to raise awareness of flooding risk in their community. Communities that reach out to the public to help prevent the effects of flooding:
- underscore their commitment to the well-being of residents and the local business community
- galvanize their community to take steps now to reduce the often devastating impact of floods
- can receive Community Rating System Rating (CRS) points to reduce the cost of flood insurance, and
- can put Federal and state mitigation assistance funds to work.
To learn how your county can participate, contact Vincent Brown at FEMA, at email@example.com or 202.646.2725.
- Federal Emergency Management Agency
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
- National Park Service
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
- U.S. Department of Agriculture
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
- U.S. Geological Survey
- U.S. Small Business Administration