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Susan Catapano-Moore juggles multiple roles in her work at the City of Long Branch in New Jersey. She is the floodplain manager, the assistant to the Director of Public Safety, and she's also the Administrative Analyst for the Police Department. Since the adoption of their CRS Program a few years back, Sue has worked hard to increase the city's resilience and streamline the work of floodplain management.
Most of my job is communicating with others about flooding and mitigation strategies. I look at building plans, collaborate with the building/planning departments and, when necessary, our city engineer. We need all of our properties, whether new or substantially improved to be in compliance with National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) standards. To do this, I have to reference the Base Flood Elevation of a property as well as know the history of flooding in the area.
While I am the floodplain manager, it took all our departments working together to bring the city into compliance and to be inducted into the CRS Program. I'm the only one in Long Branch who actually works on floodplain management, but it takes the collaboration of all departments to get the job done. This includes the Building Department, the Department of Public Works, Code, the Tax Assessor and the Police Department. We started heavily collaborating across these teams once I became the floodplain manager and once we implemented the Community Rating System (CRS) program. It took a couple of years to finally get where we are today.
We know the history of Long Branch, and where flooding occurs, but the nuances of flooding are very complex. Just recently, Hurricane Ida came through and created conditions that we've never seen with just a short period of rain - we saw flooding in areas that have never flooded before. We need better and easier to understand information to do our work.
In general, our objectives should be more about safety and less about the cost incentives. Safety is a concern to a certain extent, but we need to look at the bigger picture: how much revenue can we generate in a community that's underwater?
Before using Forerunner, we used paper-based elevation certificates (ECs) and scanned them into the computer for our yearly CommunityRating System (CRS) recertification. I would also use different spreadsheets to record permits, flood zone inquiries, and elevation certificates. The information was all over the place.
Now, Forerunner is my go-to. If someone calls, I open it up right away, I pull up the property, I put in the notes, and it's all right there. Forerunner is kind of a one-stop shop – you couldn't ask for more than that.
"I'm really enjoying Forerunner. It's saving me a lot of headaches because it's just much more streamlined. I don't have to go to different Excel spreadsheets, everything is all right there!"
That was a no brainer. We heard aboutForerunner from a presentation at the Monmouth County User CRS Group meeting.There was interest at the county level, and I felt like I wanted to jump on anything that would make my work easier. As soon as I brought it to the attention of my higher ups, they agreed that we had a need for Forerunner in Long Branch and that the investment would increase in value in the long run.
What I like about it is that the software is easy to use and the data is accurate. Forerunner allows us to switch between the Effective and Preliminary FIRMs quickly, so that we can see all of the maps that might affect an individual property's flood insurance or construction requirements. We know the landscape of our city, but it's crucial to know that we're getting the right flood information for our work. The new feature that checks Elevation Certificates (ECs) for errors is also great. It helps us stay in the CRS program and acts as a tool to help Long Branch build safely.