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Jennifer Dowe is the Tax Assessor and Community Rating System (CRS) Coordinator in Lower Township, NJ. Often working across departments, Jennifer uses all resources at her disposal to keep her residents informed and make sure that the Township is properly enforcing floodplain management regulations. We spoke with Jennifer to learn about challenges that come with her role, and how Forerunner fits into her workflows.
I am the Tax Assessor and CRS Coordinator. I also work on floodplain management along with the construction department. A big part of my job is using flood maps to communicate flood risk to my residents. Our Effective FIRM is older and had not been digitized by FEMA, so it was difficult to determine if homes were in the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) and it was hard to compare the Effective FIRM to our regulatory map. Forerunner consolidated my mapping digitally, which has been a huge help. The Forerunner program integrates both our Effective and regulatory maps into a user-friendly interface, allowing our floodplain management officials to locate Special Flood Hazard Area data in an efficient manner to better assist our homeowners and local professionals. It populates addresses better than any other program we have. I can search in the dashboard for any property within the Township boundaries and immediately get information associated with the address.
The Forerunner program integrates both our Effective and regulatory maps into a user-friendly interface, allowing our floodplain management officials to locate Special Flood Hazard Area data in an efficient manner to better assist our homeowners and local professionals. It populates addresses better than any other program we have.
Firstly, the Forerunner team is so responsive. Anytime I think of something that could make my work more efficient, I email the team and they immediately think of a way to get it done. Forerunner has a few features that I really like, like the ability to edit property information. Since some of our streets and addresses haven’t been updated, being able to edit properties and modify addresses is really useful. The Activity Feed feature, which helps us track modifications and updates to individual properties, is also very helpful. I like that it allows us to manage communication between different departments, add notes easily, and populate logs for Community Rating System (CRS) record-keeping. Since we can now import our Repetitive Loss Area Analysis map, it also allows me to flag properties that are in Repetitive Loss Areas for better tracking. I’m looking forward to using Forerunner for my next CRS recertification since I’m able to add logs as they come in, which comes in handy when residents call in asking about a property.
In general, purchasing Forerunner was a no-brainer – the software communicates flood information better than any other program we have. I like it more each time I use it!
I’m optimistic there will be an increase in funding allocated to mitigation actions which would help make the residents in our floodplain more resilient. I’m also hopeful that FIRMs will be updated to more accurately reflect areas at risk for flooding in our community. I think this will enable regulations to be enforced more easily, especially as we increase the amount of V Zone construction in Lower Township.