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How Forerunner Helps Storm-Impacted Communities

August 28, 2023
Susanna Pho, CFM

Forerunner works with communities throughout the country that are frequently affected by storms, flooding, and hurricanes. While our partners are seasoned at emergency response and post-disaster recovery, their work can still be occasionally overwhelming. The agencies we partner with are entrusted with a wide range of interconnected responsibilities, ranging from resident communication to coordinating damage assessments, all while grappling with the challenges of consolidating resources and providing rapid response across all scales of government.

We’re here to help – our work at Forerunner centers not only on blue sky floodplain management but also on the crucial work done in the hours and days after storm events. If you represent a government agency and your community is facing an impending storm or recently dealt with one, here’s how we can assist you:

For all communities

Regardless of whether or not your community is a Forerunner partner, our team is eager to lend a hand. Here are a few ways that we can help any government agency affected by a storm event:

  • Volunteer Data Entry. During and after storms, we can provide Forerunner staff volunteer time to help with remote data collection and entry. Since we produce software in our day jobs, we know our way around a spreadsheet and can help to augment your team’s time by entering information collected via pen and paper in the field. In the past, this has come in handy with preliminary damage assessments.
  • Volunteer Geospatial Analysis. We can also help with geospatial analysis! Our team can help you make digital maps or pull together existing data that might be helpful in tracking information about damage, vulnerability, or resident need. This can be especially helpful if your internal GIS team is tasked with more emergent post-disaster duties, or if you don’t have an in-house GIS team to lean on.
  • Emergency Forerunner Access. Forerunner’s software has a multitude of tools to help our users streamline post-disaster response (see more below). If you’re not a Forerunner partner, we can create a free pilot account for you in a few hours. You can use it for up to three months for free, no strings attached, to collect data and provide residents with property profiles detailing their flood risk. At the end of that time, we can export all of your data in easy-to-access file formats. For agencies considering taking advantage of this, our Preliminary Damage Assessment and and Public Website features are particularly useful.

If you are part of a government agency and want to reach out for assistance, please email us anytime at

For Forerunner partners and users

If you are a Forerunner user and have access to our floodplain management software, there are a number of features that might be useful to you:

  • Preliminary Damage Assessments. Our Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA) tool helps you capture the initial damage assessments done on individual properties. Forerunner is mobile responsive so you can use it in the field to document degree and type of damage, capture photos of damaged properties, and coordinate across team members to tackle data collection quickly.
  • Substantial Improvement and Damage Tracking. You can use Forerunner to track Substantial Damage costs across properties, which will let you know if the damage costs exceed the 50% threshold and the property requires a Substantial Damage Letter. The Substantial Damage Letters you create can also then be tracked in Forerunner. Finally, if you plan to use FEMA's Substantial Damage Estimate tool, we can provide an export from Forerunner to prefill the tool with our data.
  • Custom Property Warnings. Our Warnings feature allows you to set custom warnings on individual properties. You can use this feature to flag properties that require a damage assessment or ones that qualify for post-disaster grant funding. Warnings can be set to be viewable on your public website or hidden, so that you have maximum flexibility in communicating information. Once you set a warning, they can also be viewed on your Forerunner map – making it easier to track progress across your entire community.
  • Custom Maps. In addition to the flood mapping you currently have in Forerunner, you can bring in additional custom maps. Maps that might be applicable include  PDA inspection zones, evacuation zones, and post-storm advisory mapping. Once a map is imported, we can also use it to tell you if a property is in a specific map area.
  • Custom Post-Disaster Aerial Imagery. If your community has flown or received post-disaster imagery from an agency like NOAA, Forerunner can bring this data in so that your flood mapping is consolidated in one place. This can be especially useful if you are surveying damage aerially before going out in the field.
  • Resident Communications. Your public Forerunner website can be a great resource for getting the word out about regulatory requirements as rebuilding occurs post-storm. The website has a Get Help form to allow residents to reach you with specific property questions. Logs are automatically generated when this occurs, helping to streamline your data collection and making it easier to coordinate across team members.

We details some of these features in a longer blog post after Hurricane Ian (2022) – read more here. If you’d like help using any of the features listed above, please reach out to or your dedicated Customer Success Manager.

Upcoming Features

We're always growing Forerunner to meet the evolving needs of our partners. To this end, we have some new features in the works to help with future disaster response. Keep an eye out for our:

  • Letter Generation Feature. This upcoming feature will enable users to generate templated letters for residents. You'll be able to use it to generate documents ranging from Substantial Damage Letters to mailings to individuals in Repetitive Loss Areas. The documents will be saved in Forerunner so that you can add to your record of documentation!
  • Mobile App. We're building a mobile application for Android and iOS to make sure that our users have what they need to more easily collect data in the field. Particularly in post-disaster situations, wireless connectivity might be difficult to come by. The Mobile App will provide users with the ability to download maps and use Forerunner in offline mode to help make data collection in challenging environments easier. Note that the current version of Forerunner is mobile responsive, which means you can use it in your browser today! 

If you have questions about our upcoming features or ideas for future additions, please feel free to reach out at!

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