Floodplain Mngmt


Floodplain Management Program Notes

Bill DeGroot, P. E.
Chief, Floodplain Management Program

New Staff Member

The Floodplain Management Program has added a second project engineer. David Mallory, most recently with RG Consulting Engineers, Inc., has been appointed to this new position. David’s initial assignment will be in the areas of development review and District maintenance eligibility.

Armstrong Appointed

Mike Armstrong, who was Region 8 Director for the Federal Emergency Management Agency for four years, has been appointed by President Clinton and confirmed by the Senate as FEMA’s Associate Director for mitigation. I‘ve known Mike for a long time, and am pleased to see someone of his quality, and past local government experience, in this important position.


I have spent the last two plus years as chair of the Floodplain Management Committee of the National Association of Flood and Stormwater Management Agencies (NAFSMA). Following two committee meetings to identify the issues most important to our member agencies, I drafted a position paper setting forth our issues with regard to FEMA’s administration of the National Flood Insurance Program. (NFIP). The NAFSMA Board of Directors adopted the position paper and forwarded a copy to FEMA Director James Lee Witt with a request for a meeting to discuss the issues with him.

While we were not successful in meeting with Witt, we did receive an audience with Mike Armstrong. NAFSMA President John Beyke, Executive Director Susan Gilson and I met with Mike and a number of his senior staff in September. I think we were successful in articulating our concerns to Mike, and I am hopeful that our concerns will be better understood and recognized in the future.

The three of us also met with the Technical Mapping Advisory Council the same day. The Council was established by Congress to advise FEMA on mapping issues. Our main concern with the Council was that they did not have any member representing local government, and we suggested that a NAFSMA representative should be added to the Council to provide the local point of view. We learned, however, that the membership was specified in Federal legislation and could not be changed without an amendment to the legislation.

The Council did extend an invitation to NAFSMA to nominate a technical advisor to the Council, and I was appointed to fill that role. I attended my first meeting in that capacity in Minneapolis in December. I was impressed by the hard work put in by the Council members at that meeting. I also felt that my input was seriously considered by the Council members. If you have any input or issues regarding FEMA's maps, please let me know and I will bring it to the attention of the Council.

NAFSMA’s 20th anniversary annual meeting will be held in Denver at the Brown Palace Hotel, September 22-26, 1998. This will be a great opportunity for Denver area flood and stormwater managers to attend one of the premier meetings on these subjects for just the cost of registration. Mark your calendars now and plan to attend. We will have more information on the program and registration as the date gets closer.

FEMA Mapping Initiative

FEMA has begun a comprehensive planning effort to address numerous problems with their Flood Insurance Rate Maps; including updating old maps and the distribution of maps. They have published a report, "Modernizing FEMA’S Flood Hazard Mapping Program, A Progress Report," dated November, 1997; and have under internal review reports assessing the benefits and costs of the recommendations in the above report.

There are a number of positive recommendations in the report. Once the benefits and costs have been sorted out, and decisions made as to if and how much funding to request in President Clinton’s budget, we should know more about FEMA’s revised mapping efforts in early 1998.

Random Thoughts

The Denver Post has a daily phone-in poll feature called "Q&A" which they say "is not a scientifically designed poll, and therefore no claims are made as to the validity of its results." Nevertheless, the August 10 results to the question "Should new housing be allowed in floodplains?" are encouraging. A whopping 94.1% of the callers said no. I wish those folks would all show up at a public hearing the next time we see a proposal to build a new subdivision in a floodplain.

It is popular in some floodplain management circles these days to be anti-structural flood control. However, a New York Times article printed in the May 3 Denver Post, describing Winnipeg’s experience with the flood which had earlier devastated Grand Forks had this to say: "The main difference between the destruction in Grand Forks and the relative calm in Winnipeg is a huge floodway built around the eastern half of the city after a disastrous flood in 1950." It might be interesting to learn more about how Winnipeg handled that flood.

National Association of Flood and Stormwater Management Agencies
20th Anniversary Annual Meetings and Workshops
Brown Palace HotelDenver, CO
September 22-26, 1998

For more information, contact NAFSMA at:
1401 Eye St. NW, Suite 900
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 218-4122


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