The Forerunner team spent a week in Orlando for the Association of State Floodplain Managers Annual Conference. Lucy Randl, a member of our product team and a floodplain management freshman, attended and had a chance get a crash course on all things flood! Here are some of her learnings:
Last week, I, along with a few other members of the Forerunner team, attended the ASFPM 2022 Conference in Florida where we exhibited, met with many of our partner communities, and attended concurrent sessions across various themes in floodplain management. Since starting at Forerunner, I have learned a lot about floodplain management through my day-to-day work, but it has been in the context of my role as a product manager. As someone with less than six months of experience in the space, this conference filled in a lot of my knowledge gaps that will better inform my daily product work and decisions. In addition to a full day Floodplain Management 101 course, I also attended a handful of informative presentations to round out my time in Orlando on topics like:
Floodplain Management and Risk Rating 2.0
As someone fairly new to the floodplain management world, it was interesting to observe industry-wide themes discussed by conference attendees within and outside of the concurrent sessions. Risk Rating 2.0 was a constant topic of conversation. I was able to get an overview of Risk Rating 2.0 during the first concurrent session with Bruce Bender and Joe Rossi called “Floodplain Management and Risk Rating 2.0 - Understanding and Explaining the Changes”. Bruce and Joe spoke to a filled room about the recent changes to FEMA’s rating system that more equitably reflect flood risk. Because this has been the biggest change to NFIP rating methodology in decades, their presentation also touched on recommendations for messaging to effectively communicate Risk Rating 2.0 to residents and community members. Because this conversation is so relevant to a floodplain manager’s daily workflow, the Q & A session was pretty enthusiastic. There was a lot of discussion around positioning the change and concerns over implications of Risk Rating 2.0 on their residents.
Planning and Floodplain Management
Stacy Wright from Atkins gave an insightful presentation on the rise of planners in floodplain management called “Planners Unite!”. At Forerunner, we mostly work with floodplain managers in our partner communities, but it was fascinating to learn more the increasing importance of cross-departmental collaboration as we face the impacts of floods, wildfires, and climate change. She gave some really great, tangible tips on how planners and floodplain managers can work together to create more resilient communities across the United States! In areas with high flood risk, urban planners and floodplain managers both can’t exist in a vacuum. Each needs the other’s expertise and buy-in to develop resilient cities. For this reason, Stacy noted that both teams should check in regularly and be included on large-scale decisions.
Regional Resilience in Southwest Florida
Claire Jubb from Charlotte County, FL was incredibly compelling when discussing the need for regional approaches to resiliency in her presentation titled “Climate Change - Taking a Regional Approach to Resiliency”. She stressed the point that the impacts of climate change don’t stop at jurisdictional boundaries or care about affluence or politics. I really enjoyed how candidly she spoke about recent challenges with the Southwest Florida Regional Resiliency Compact. She discussed conflicting priorities and lack of governance and structure with communities participating in the compact. After touching on key concerns in their compact, Claire gave helpful words of advice for others trying to navigate these same issues. She stressed the importance of united voices and sticking to the script, placing an emphasis on clear communication from the beginning, and getting buy-in from staff and elected officials across participating communities up front.
Looking to the Future and Planning for Sea Level Rise
Christian Kamrath and Katherine Hagemann from Miami-Dade County presented on their forward-looking adaptation plan to address simultaneous challenges related to flooding and sea level rise that includes policy changes and a variety of programs. While Christian and Katherine were quite candid about the difficulties in managing multiple projects and community expectations, they were a source of inspiration to audience members when discussing strategies including green and blue neighborhoods and transit construction. This session really shed light on the strain chronic flooding and rising sea levels places on municipalities. It got me thinking about the pressure on local governments to not only solve current problems, but also plan for future flooding incidents, often with only a few staff members to support activities.
Overall, the ASFPM 2022 Annual Conference provided an amazing opportunity for learning about floodplain management and mitigation projects in action. It is really fascinating to see the work that is being done to ensure preparedness and learn about future projects and practices that provide long-term benefits within individual communities and in state and regional efforts. The insights, learnings and conversations with users from the conference will better inform my daily work and product decisions at Forerunner as we work to solve problems for our partner communities. Our team is looking forward to returning next year to Raleigh to do it all again! Big thank you to ASFPM for putting together a great week in Orlando.
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