Webinar Archives

RNN Community Spotlight: September 2016

RNN Community Spotlight: Tulsa, Oklahoma 

The Resilient Neighbors Network (RNN) is a co-mentoring network that offers ideas and feedback to FEMA and other federal partners on how the federal government can help increase community resilience to natural hazards. The RNN advocates and researches ways that communities can work on grassroots disaster resilience and sustainability.

We talked with RNN community member Bill Robison on how being involved with the RNN community benefits his community in Oklahoma.

What community do you live in?    

Tulsa, Oklahoma

How does your community embrace disaster risk reduction? 

Hazard mitigation planning and implementation, The Community Rating System (CRS) and the 100RC program.

Why did your community decide to join the RNN? 

To share ideas and strategies with other RNN communities.

Has your community ever suffered from a natural disaster? 

In the early 80’s Tulsa lead the country with the most declared disasters. Since that time we have become known as one of the most disaster resistant communities in the country.

If so, how did your community prepare/recover from it? 

The city has spent over $500M on flood control projects since that time. Developed and implemented 3 FEMA approved hazard mitigation plans. Achieved a Class 2 CRS rating.

What has your community learned from being a part of the RNN?

The need for pre-disaster planning for post-disaster recovery among other things.

How, in your opinion, can communities benefit from joining the RNN? 

Learning from past experiences and networking with other communities.

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A bridge along Highway 377 over-topped by the flooding Washita River near Tishomingo, Oklahoma

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Memorial Day Flood Damage 1984

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1986 Flood in West Tulsa

Remembering the 1986 Tulsa Flood

There is a 1986 flood commemoration event planned for next Monday which will include a high watermark sign in South Tulsa along Riverside Parkway with an unveiling ceremony Monday morning at 10:00 AM. The event will feature Mayor Bartlett, The US Army Corps of Engineers and the National Weather Service

Travis Meyer with KOTV, Channel 6 did an excellent story on the flood, click here to see the video.

The City of Tulsa also compiled a video that will be up on the City website next week. Here is the link to the city’s website: https://www.cityoftulsa.org

Below is a brochure that the City of Tulsa is mailing to about 3,600 property owners in the areas inundated above the 1% flood level and those in levee protected areas. All this is in an effort to raise awareness that we are still at risk.

tulsa-brochure1

tulsa-brochure2

To learn more about the RNN and how it can help your community or to join, please visit our website at: http://resilientneighbors.com/

 

 

RNN Community Spotlight: July 2016

RNN Community Spotlight: Central Shenandoah Valley Region, Virginia

The Resilient Neighbors Network (RNN) is a co-mentoring network that offers ideas and feedback to FEMA and other federal partners on how the federal government can help increase community resilience to natural hazards. The RNN advocates and researches ways that communities can work on grassroots disaster resilience and sustainability.

We talked with RNN community member Rebecca Joyce on how being involved with the RNN community benefits her rural community in Virginia.

What community do you live in? 

Our community is the Central Shenandoah Valley Region which is in western Virginia in the Appalachian Mountains and is made up of 21 local jurisdictions – 5 Counties, 5 Cities, and 11 Towns. We are a rural area with cities that are urban centers.

How does your community embrace disaster risk reduction? 

Our Region has embraced disaster risk reduction out of necessity because we are vulnerable to many types of natural hazards and severe weather. We implement disaster risk reduction through three ways; education and public awareness, hazard mitigation planning, and hazard mitigation projects. We approach disaster risk reduction holistically and understand to create more resilient communities, we need to educate our citizens, plan for ways to reduce our vulnerabilities now and in the future, and implement projects that reduce our risks.

 Why did your community decide to join the RNN? 

The Central Shenandoah Valley Region decided to join the RNN because when we began our hazard mitigation work over twenty years ago, the field was relatively new and we didn’t have other communities that we could contact for assistance or information. As a Region, we were on our own in how we developed our program, gathered resources and knowledge, and implemented projects. We thought the RNN would be a great way to share our experiences and challenges to help other communities starting out with disaster risk reduction. Also, we have learned that this field is very complex and rapidly changing and we thought that we could learn much from the other RNN communities.

Has your community ever suffered from a natural disaster? 

Our Region’s most significant natural hazards are flooding and winter storms but we deal with a variety of natural hazards and severe weather. Our largest flood events have been associated with tropical systems and include Hurricane Camille in 1969, Hurricane Agnes in 1972, Hurricane Juan in 1985, Hurricane Fran in 1996, and Hurricane Isabel in 2003. In the last 5 years we have dealt with several winter storms that have dropped several feet of snow, tornadoes, a derecho, and most recently, a large wildfire in the Shenandoah National Park.

Rocky Mountain Fire Photo by Bob Adamek

Photo of the Rocky Mountain wildfire in April 2016 taken by Bob Adamek

If so, how did your community prepare/recover from it? 

The communities in our Region prepare for disasters through excellent planning such as Emergency Operations Plans (EOPs); Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Plans (HMERPs); and one community even has a Community Wildfire Preparedness Plan (CWPP). As a region, we also have an All Hazards Mitigation Plan that assesses risks and prioritizes mitigation projects. Shenandoah Valley Project Impact is our regional disaster preparedness and mitigation education program that educates on citizens how to protect their families, properties, and businesses. Because our Region is a rural area, the local jurisdictions have to work extremely well together because of limited personnel and resources. But it is the limited personnel and resources that can make recovery from a natural disaster difficult so anything we can do before a natural disaster to educate citizens, prepare communities, and reduce risk is essential.

What has your community learned from being a part of the RNN? 

RNN is truly a collaborative environment where communities can share and learn from each other. We have learned that the variety of locations, sizes, and types of RNN communities is a unique asset because it creates a broad base of knowledge that individual RNN communities can tap into when they need expertise to assist them with challenges they are facing in their individual community. All the RNN communities are always willing to assist fellow communities by providing information and connections to resources whenever they can.

How, in your opinion, can communities benefit from joining the RNN? 

Communities can benefit from joining the RNN because it gives them the chance to connect with peers in communities across the United States that are making strides in Disaster Risk Reduction. By joining the RNN, communities not only have access to the expertise of other RNN communities, they also have the ability to share their experiences and the challenges they face in their hazard mitigation and resiliency efforts. Participation in RNN gives a community access to resources and the opportunity to further the efforts of Disaster Risk Reduction throughout the U.S.

To learn more about the RNN and how it can help your community or to join, please visit our website at: http://resilientneighbors.com/

 

The Natural Hazard Mitigation Association (NHMA) Comments on “Establishing a Deductible for FEMA’s Public Assistance Program”

At the Natural Hazard Mitigation Association (NHMA), we are tremendously supportive of the proposed Public Assistance Program (PA) Deductible because it has the potential to reinforce and support one of our core tenets: that we as a Nation must, state-by-state and community-by-community, establish higher development standards to be more resilient and to reduce future risk. While these types of efforts are sometimes associated with upfront higher costs, a careful and reasonably constructed program will actually have the potential to save vastly more costs in the long run and lead to a more resilient and prosperous community. We also strongly support the investment and commitment of individual states, tribes and local governments to enact and implement natural hazard mitigation measures.

The savings of disaster damage risk reduction (used interchangeably with hazard mitigation) are well-documented including the 4 to 1 dollar return on investment stated in the 2005 Multihazard Mitigation Council’s (MMC) of the National Institute of Building Sciences “Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves: An Independent Study to Assess the Future Savings from Mitigation Activities“. Other studies from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and the large insurance company Swiss Re indicate that higher design standards have a far greater payback than 4 to 1. More specifically, Swiss Re reports that “Evidence suggests that every dollar spent on disaster risk reduction has a ten-to-one cost benefit ratio, and our own studies show that we can avert up to 65% of climate risks using cost effective measures.”
In any case, those higher standards place the cost of the development on those who develop and use the development, rather than permitting those costs to be improperly externalized to society as a whole. This basic philosophy has been affirmed all the way up to the Supreme Court with Justice Samuel Alito observing in the Koontz v. St Johns River Water Management District case: “Insisting that landowners internalize the negative externalities of their conduct is a hallmark of responsible land-use policy, and we have long sustained such regulations against constitutional attack.” (for more information on legal perspective regarding externalities, see:

http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/state_local_government/land_use.authcheckdam.pdf)

We believe that safe design and zoning standards, which protect the property and rights of all in the community, have an even greater payback to the community than good building codes, which are normally based on life safety. Good building codes typically only consider disaster damage risk reduction, building functionality, and operability, essential components to avoiding major costs and disruption, only when “where practicable to do so.” For example, the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program Provision’s objective states that ordinary buildings in earthquakes will: “Avoid serious injury and life loss due to structural collapse, failure of nonstructural components or systems, and release of hazardous materials… and reduce structural and nonstructural repair costs where practicable to do so.” [from in-progress draft as of summer 2014]

At the 2016 Building Innovation Conference and Expo, sponsored by the National Institute of Building Sciences, Dr. Keith Porter suggested that if the goal of building codes were to be resilience, costs would increase about 1%; the savings in areas prone to earthquakes would be many multiples of the extra costs. In following the earthquake example in the above paragraph, earthquake codes could be modified as Dr. Porter suggests from current standards to a more holistic one: “Ordinary buildings in earthquakes will: ‘Avoid serious injury and life loss due to structural collapse, substantial damage to nonstructural components and systems, and release of hazardous materials, and be largely habitable or functional.”’ [Emphasis added] The codes should be modified for other foreseeable natural hazards as well to incorporate resilient standards into our development practices and avoid the costly scenario of losses and future retrofits.

NHMA observes that the effort to establish a deductible on the merits of state/local action has many parallels to the origins the United States systems of dealing with the reduction of urban fire risk. As indicated in the FEMA Publication America at Risk America Burning Recommissioned (FA-223/June 2002) when discussing fire loss in urban portions of the United States:
“Today, the threat of fires is still with us. But we have done a lot to address the risk, minimize the incidence and severity of losses, and prevent fires from spreading. Our states and localities have an improving system of codes and standards; most of us are aware of the risks; we have accomplished a lot, but we have much more to do.”
“As the… report (FA-223/June 2002) very clearly indicates, the success of America’s fire services over the past 100 years is instructive for the strength and sustainability of America’s communities for the next 100 years as well. Today, we must not only continue and reinvigorate our successes, but also expand them to include the natural and man-made threats that each of our counties, cities, towns and villages face every day – floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, hazardous material spills, highway accidents, acts of terrorism, and so much more.” [Emphasis added] In addition, the FEMA National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Community Rating System (CRS), has also successfully provided incentives for communities to exceed floodplain standards. The lessons drawn from the establishment and enhancement of CRS is to first identify the most important and meaningful activities that earn incentives. By definition, these would be activities that represent best practices and can demonstrate measurable improvement.
Lastly, NHMA encourages FEMA to use its existing authority under Section 323 of the Stafford Act (PL 93-288), which can require safe land use and construction practices, to help achieve the implementation of the PA Deductible.

Therefore, we believe the following two overall principles are most important for the PA Deductible which are proven meaningful techniques that are working:
• Heavily incentivizing better development standards – We make a strong recommendation that disaster damage risk reduction take a prominent place in both zoning codes and building codes so that life safety concerns, post event operability as well as disaster damage risk reduction, including to help in that transformation. Building and zoning/land use codes that better address real resilience to natural hazard risk. These codes should address disaster damage risk reduction including operability and functionality post-event. Examples of how this could be applied are enhanced building codes and resiliency into planning like the incorporation of hazard mitigation into State and local comprehensive planning requirements (e.g., the Safety element in the California state planning requirements and the California Earthquake Authority education and retrofitting mitigation activities)
• Investment and commitment of state/local/tribal resources – Provision of state/local/tribal funds to develop or match projects that reduce risk. Use of local planning to minimize, or design to higher standards future and post disaster development in hazard prone areas. Capital improvement to protect existing facilities and infrastructure. See, e.g., Hazard Mitigation in Disaster Recovery, by Edward A. Thomas, Esq., and Lincoln Walther, FAIA, in Planning for Post Disaster Briefing Papers, American Planning Association, 2015. Located at: https://www.planning.org/research/postdisaster/briefingpapers/

Below are detailed activities that should be considered for demonstrating investment and commitment of state/local/tribal resources:
State Government
• Enhanced State Hazard Mitigation Plan (SHMP) that is not only approved by FEMA, but documentation shows that it is routinely updated/implemented through a plan maintenance process that involves all state agencies, as appropriate (i.e., not limited to a one-agency plan).
• State funding for hazard mitigation projects as identified in the SHMP
• The percentage of population covered by a state-led Cooperating Technical Partners (CTP) programs which shows commitment of state resources to flood mapping and flood risk reduction
• Adoption of state building codes that are consistent with or exceed the latest (or recent) versions of I-Codes
• State enabling legislation for planning requires hazard-specific elements to be incorporated into local comprehensive/general plans
• State-specific guidance for integrating climate adaptation or disaster damage risk reduction into local planning (such as CA and CO)
• Uniform Minimum Credit (UMC) points as issued for the state under CRS
• Establishment of state-specific PA program (such as NC)
• Establishment of Disaster Reserve Fund (or similar “rainy day” fund, that includes but is not limited to match funds for FEMA grant programs)
• Adoption and compliance with statewide hazard disclosure laws for realtors, lenders, etc.
• Accredited state agency under the Emergency Management Accreditation Program (EMAP) that includes credit for mitigation and long-term recovery

Local/Tribal Government
• Local funding and/or other resources used for hazard mitigation projects/actions as identified in the local hazard mitigation plan
• Documentation that local policy and planning processes (comprehensive plan, Capital Improvement Program, zoning ordinances, development regulations, etc.) have incorporated disaster damage risk reduction principles and practices
• The percentage of population covered by a regional or local-led Cooperating Technical Partners (CTP) programs which shows commitment of regional or local resources to flood mapping and flood risk reduction
• Documentation of other risk-based but non-regulatory approaches to planning for disaster resilience (e.g., local incentives, education/outreach campaigns, guidance, etc.).
• Designation of a full-time Chief Resilience Officer (or equivalent) who reports directly to the chief executive officer or elected official(s), with general oversight and responsibility for implementing disaster damage risk reduction activities across local departments/agencies
• Documentation that a portion of the local government’s financial resources are dedicated to disaster damage risk reduction outcomes (e.g., similar to the “10% Resilience Pledge” under the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities Challenge).
• Documentation of losses avoided (following the event that triggers a PA declaration)
• Positive CRS and Building Code Effectiveness Grading Schedule ratings (easily obtained from the Insurance Services Office; FEMA has already identified as metric for local commitment to risk reduction)
• Documentation that shows how the local government has decreased its aggregate risk to hazards through future conditions-based mitigation planning and project implementation (e.g., what Charlotte-Mecklenburg County, NC has done for flood risk)
• Adoption of a Post-Disaster Redevelopment Plan / Recovery Plan that includes specific governance measures, land use policies and regulatory actions relating to “disinvestment” in hazard areas that are severely damaged or destroyed by disaster (e.g., Hillsborough County, FL)
• Accredited local agencies under the Emergency Management Accreditation Program (EMAP) that includes credit for mitigation and long-term recovery