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Navigating the NJAFM Conference: A Glimpse into the World of Floodplain Management

November 8, 2023
Ashley Hicks

As a new Forerunner team member, I recently had the opportunity to attend the New Jersey Association for Floodplain Managers (NJAFM) Conference held at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City. 

The NJAFM conference, initiated in 2005 as a half-day event with around 50 attendees, has since witnessed a remarkable tenfold increase in participation. The central theme of this year's event revolved around investing in mitigation strategies and leveraging available resources, featuring 35 presentations over a span of two days.

Our Forerunner team had a chance to chat with many of the floodplain managers in attendance. A common challenge became evident through our conversations – many of the individuals we spoke with felt stretched thin, juggling multiple responsibilities across various municipalities. We have the privilege of working with dozens of communities in the state. It was apparent that, for many of them, Forerunner helped to streamline their workflows, saving valuable time on compliance tasks and offering a means to effectively communicate risk to residents without overburdening their limited bandwidth.

Federal Funding for Flood Mitigation

During the conference, I attended a presentation by Gerilee Bennett, the Acting Division Director of HMA within FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Directorate. She outlined six FEMA mitigation programs aimed at reducing risk, enhancing climate resilience, and promoting equity in vulnerable communities. These programs are categorized into disaster cycle grant programs and annual cycle grant programs.

Notable among these grants were the Building Resilient Infrastructure Communities (BRIC) and the Flood Mitigation Assistance program, both of which offer substantial funds totaling $1.8 billion for the fiscal year 2023. These funds are accessible to communities seeking to bolster their resilience in the face of climate change, with a focus on disadvantaged communities. It was encouraging to hear that federal funding for resilience continues to grow over time, creating valuable opportunities for investing in the future for communities in New Jersey and beyond.

NFIP: Repetitive Loss/Substantial Damage

A presentation by Chris Huch of Tetra Tech delved into the analysis of Repetitive Loss Areas and the importance of coordinating analysis with substantial damage management planning. Repetitive loss properties, characterized by two or more NFIP claims exceeding $1,000 within a rolling 10-year period, were introduced. The session then shed light on the challenges presented by repetitive loss properties for communities trying to lower their flood risk. Many of the communities in attendance participated in the Community Rating System (CRS) program and could potentially benefit from producing Repetitive Loss Area Analyses and/or Substantial Damage Plans. Chris outlined the compounding benefits of investing in planning on this front and offered several ways that communities could get started. I was surprised by the difficulty of mobilizing repetitive loss property data. The audience spoke about finding repetitive loss properties in unexpected areas, often due to erroneous data, raising the need to create nuance around flood risk in communicating with residents. 

My experience at the NJAFM conference left a lasting impression, revealing the dedication and passion of floodplain managers in the state. I left inspired by the insights that I gained from Forerunner’s users as well as the broader floodplain management community. The presentations I attended emphasized the need for precise data and innovative approaches in flood management. The experience reaffirmed my enthusiasm for Forerunner’s community to support resilient communities in addressing their floodplain management challenges.

The Forerunner Team at our exhibit booth!

If you'd like to hear more about our experience at the conference or if you'd like to learn more about our work, we’d love to connect. Please feel free to reach out to or request a demo.

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