EIIP Virtual Forum Presentation — March 23, 2011

Critical Facilities and Flood Risk
ASFPM Recommendations

Chad M. Berginnis, CFM
Associate Director
Association of State Floodplain Managers

Amy Sebring
EIIP Moderator

The following has been prepared from a transcription of the recording. The complete slide set (Adobe PDF) may be downloaded from http://www.emforum.org/vforum/ASFPM/CriticalFacilities.pdf for ease of printing.

[Welcome / Introduction]

Amy Sebring: Good morning/afternoon everyone and welcome once again to EMForum.org. I am Amy Sebring and will serve as your Moderator today. We are very glad you could join us.

Our topic is based on a recent ASFPM position paper, "Critical Facilities and Flood Risk," which includes a number of recommendations that we will hear about today. The paper starts from the premise, "Stated simply, critical facilities should never be flooded, and critical actions should never be conducted in floodplains if at all avoidable." The position paper, as well as related information, may be accessed from today’s Background Page.

We are making a recording, which should be available later this afternoon. The text transcript will be posted later on. If you are not on our mailing list, you can subscribe from our home page, and then you will get a notice when these are ready.

[Slide 1]

Now it is my pleasure to introduce today’s guest: Chad Berginnis is a Certified Floodplain Manager and Associate Director of ASFPM. Chad previously worked in the Ohio Floodplain Management Program and in planning, economic development and floodplain management programs for Perry County, Ohio. He has also worked for Michael Baker Jr. Inc. as national Practice Leader in hazard mitigation.

Welcome Chad and thank you very much for taking the time to be with us today. I now turn the floor over to you to start us off please.


Chad Berginnis: Thank you, Amy and all of you who are participating on this webinar. I am very excited and passionate about this topic. In my work as a state and local official, especially, one of the things I have seen time and again are critical facilities being flooded, and needlessly so. My hope is that with today’s webinar we can explore the dimensions of critical facilities and conclude with some of the ASFPM recommendations on critical facilities going forward.

[Slide 2]

Before I get into that, I want to briefly talk about the organization I represent in terms of the Association of State Flood Plain Managers. Simply put, our mission is to reduce misery and suffering from flooding and also to try to preserve and enhance the natural beneficial values and functions of flood plains.

We have had flood plains on this planet for a long time—thousands of years. In earlier times flood plains were seen to be a very valuable asset in terms of natural functioning of ecosystems. I think in modern times we may have forgotten that aspect, but again, that is also a role of flood plains.

[Slide 3]

The association has 14,000 members among direct and state associations. As you can see on this slide, we have 29 state chapters and also several pending chapters. We cover the country from coast to coast, and basically, there are a lot of flood managers working at the state, community, private sector, and federal levels.

[Slide 4]

Our executive office is in Madison, Wisconsin, but in terms of one of the areas we particularly focus on is policy development.

[Slide 5]

In policy development, we have 13 different policy committees and one of those committees in particular, being our flood proofing and retrofitting committee.

[Slide 6]

It is through that committee that we develop the White Paper on Critical Facilities Protection. The association does a lot of work relating to flood policy. We gather a lot of input and feedback from our members and that helps inform the policy discussion papers we put out there. Our most recent White Paper that our board has approved is one on critical facilities.

[Slide 7]

Before we go into our recommendations, I want to have a bigger discussion on critical facilities in terms of what they are, how you determine flood risk, what are standards, what the best practices are, and finally, what the association’s recommendations are. I think this is also very timely because as the photo shows, what we are talking about is no less grave than a nuclear power plant on Japan’s coast.

A nuclear plant, being by definition, a critical facility—and how a flood, a flood of proportions that wasn’t planned for, was able to cause enough havoc that now what we are faced with is the potential for a nuclear meltdown at that particular facility and probably at minimum a land area that will be uninhabitable and unusable by humans for many years to come.

[Slide 8]

In terms of defining a critical facility, what is it we are talking about? For those of you who are emergency managers on the phone, you probably have been working in this space a little bit in terms of working with critical infrastructure or essential facilities, and there is a lot of overlap based on the definitions.

The definition we work with in the flood plain management community tends to come from an earlier document produced by the Water Resources Council, called "Further Advice on Executive Order 11988", and that is the federal executive order that requires federal agencies in their decision making to consider flood plain management elements.

Again, critical facilities doesn’t exactly equal critical infrastructure. I think those distinctions are less important. What I will do is talk a little about how you might characterize facilities using some resources so that in your own communities you can work to better define those. As this illustration on this slide shows, we are also talking are facilities that if they aren’t as dire as resulting in a potential nuclear plant meltdown, they are nonetheless very expensive.

Whether it is a large community waste water treatment plant being flooded or something for a smaller community, a flood, something that in flood plain management we might consider not exceedingly rare—something like a hundred year flood—you have a single flood event and you’re talking $10,000,000 in damage, like what occurred in Cranston, Rhode Island.

[Slide 9]

What we’re talking about are facilities that are significant infrastructure investments in communities, and those facilities where even the slightest chance of flooding is too great. That is probably the most boiled down definition of a critical facility that we use in the flood plain community—again, a facility where any activity or a facility where even the slightest chance of flooding is too great.

In determining what might be critical facilities and what might now, there is a decision making process and some questions that you would want to ask. The first of those is, if flooded, would the facility create an added dimension to the disaster?

Going back to the biggest issue worldwide, obviously with something like a nuclear plant, you have materials onsite that certainly, if flooded, damaged, or otherwise made inoperable or knocking out protection systems, you have a significant issue environmentally, public health wise, and so on.

You can also have facilities storing toxic waste, hazardous materials, and so on. In Ohio, a facility that has worked with our state hazardous review siting board was a hazardous waste incinerator that was near the Ohio River, and we got into a very heavy discussion on the siting of that in trying to push decisions makers to tell them even a 500 year flood plain is not an appropriate place for that kind of facility.

Also, there are certain commercial facilities, like manufacturing facilities, that depending on the products they produce or store onsite could be considered a critical facility based on those particular products.

[Slide 10]

The next question in determining whether a facility is critical or not is, given flood warning lead times, would occupants of buildings be sufficiently mobile to avoid loss of life or injuries? What we’re talking about here are different kinds of institutions—schools, colleges, nursing homes, and so forth.

In doing some review for our Critical Facilities White Paper, the impact of a flooded nursing home facility where great care must be taken to evacuate residents and time has to be taken in doing that, time and again, in addition to property loss, you have personal injury and loss of life associated with that.

Another question: would essential or irreplaceable records, utilities, and/or emergency services be lost or inoperable due to flood? This is probably where you see the largest category of critical facilities—things like police and fire stations, EOCs, emergency shelters. How many emergency shelters are there that are also in designated flood hazard areas.

Is that even a criterion in the selection of those shelters during a non-disaster event? Is that even a criteria or consideration? Things like hospitals—the hospitals for some reason tend to have a lot of very expensive equipment and functionality down either on a ground level or below ground.

Things like water plants and waste water treatment plants, and also associated utilities that serve those, such as pump stations—as is often the case, I’ve seen I flood disaster where even if the plant is not impacted, you have a few pump stations that go down and there are significant issues related to public health—contamination and sewerage mixing into the general flood waters.

[Slide 11]

By asking those questions, you can get a good sense of what a critical facility may be. One thing that wasn’t in there was, do you have certain pieces of critical infrastructure considered a critical facility? I would always err on the side of caution. Let’s say you had a nuclear plant close to an area of water because it needs that for cooling towers, but the only means of access to that is a road that routinely gets flooded.

That road would be considered a critical facility or a piece of critical infrastructure in that case. Those are just some initial questions for determination of that, but certainly using those criteria can be applied to different infrastructure.

Once we’ve defined what our critical facilities are, how may we determine the flood risks for those facilities? There are a couple of things, and a couple of myths out there, and things to be particularly attentive to. With these facilities, it should start with a good site analysis—looking at existing data, FEMA flood maps, historical flood records, and asking neighboring property owners.

The bottom line for a lot of these types of facilities is these are going to represent a significant infrastructure investment by the community or entity, whether it be private sector or public. There needs to be a perfect due diligence to insure that the siting of that from a flood risk standpoint is sited in a way that you know every piece of information on that. Looking simply at a FEMA flood map is not appropriate.

There needs to be more digging, historical flood records and so on, to determine the flood risk at that site. In terms of looking at flood risk, what you’re looking at is protection against something at least at the 500 year flood elevation level. At the national standard, under the National Flood Insurance Program, we have 100 year flood level of protection, or the 1% chance flood plain.

In a lot of that mapping, 500 year flood levels are provided, but in some cases it is not provided. It is worth the incremental investment to develop that data if it doesn’t exist. One of the other issues is if you have existing data—let’s say you have existing 500 year flood level, but it is from a flood map that was produced maybe 20 or 30 years ago.

The reality is, in the world of flood mapping and risk assessment in general, is that our science, our techniques and our data improve over time. A flood plain is not a static area, and over time, flood elevations do change. They may go up or down. The science of determining flood elevations is based on things like length of string gauging records, improved methodologies and so on.

In siting a critical facility, the age of the flood risk data is an important consideration especially if the only data you have is much older. If there is, in generating new information, there should be an acknowledgement that even with the best models and methods that we know today in determining flood elevation information, that there is still uncertainty. Perhaps 200 years from now, if I put on this same webinar, I can say that we have with very high confidence good estimation in our models on what 100 year flood data is. We simply don’t have long enough records in most places in the country to take out a large amount of uncertainty.

Finally, are there other flood related hazards? Whether it be tsunamis, or lahars (and for those of you who are not in volcano country, a "lahar" is a volcanically induced mudslide, where mud flows down the sides of those things)—so again, a couple of parameters here.

[Slide 12]

For those of you unfamiliar with flood mapping, this is a typical cross section. When you see a 100 year flood plain, this is a cross-sectional view of it where you have the channel, an area of high flow called the "flood way", which is the highest risk area, and then a fringe area. Outside of that, you have the limits of what would be the 100 year and 500 year flood plain. We’re talking an area is oftentimes beyond what you see on a flood map.

In these outer areas from the edge of the 100 year flood plain to some point further is going to be the boundary of your 500 year flood plain. From a critical facility standpoint, we want to make sure that protection, or siting even, is outside the 500 year flood plain.

[Slide 13]

In coastal areas, it’s a little bit different in terms of what the flood profile looks like. In coastal areas, you have your sea level, your 100 year still water elevation, and you have flood levels that also include wave effects. Those wave effects are going to drive the flood level higher in doing that. A lot of this is tied to the 100 year, and what we are looking at are larger events.

In coastal areas in particular, the historical record may be a very key and important piece of information where especially you have hurricane prone coastal areas, you may have a storm search to consider, from the largest hurricane that may have affected the area. Even in tsunami prone areas, they are more prevalent on the west coast and especially the northwest. That needs to be considered as well.

[Slide 14]

In determining the flood risk for critical facilities, this is a FEMA flood map, and the darker shaded zone A or V (V is the coastal one) is what is considered 100 year type area. This lighter shaded zone X is a boundary subject to the 500 years. If you had a new critical facility being planned in this area, you would want to be in this unshaded zone, this white area, at least as a starting point to start siting those critical facilities, if at all possible.

[Slide 15]

Once we’ve defined and determined the flood risk, what standards are we talking? This is pretty simple. In terms of new facilities, the best course of action is avoidance—avoiding those areas that even have a remote chance of flooding.

Also, check your assumptions. There may be facilities that on the surface appear to be something called a "functionally dependent use" or it functionally needs to be close to a water course or flood area to operate, but check those assumptions. A great example of that would be a waste water treatment plant.

Waste water treatment plants, especially those that are gravity type plants, a lot of times they are sited in flood plain areas, and they aren’t necessary to be in there. From the standpoint of cost of the plant itself, if you moved it outside of the 100 or 500 year flood zone, you might have to add a pump station to be able to make the flow work.

That becomes more of a cost consideration that needs to be budgeted and planned for as opposed to the facility having to be right next to the river, stream or coastal area. Always question those assumptions and find if there is truly a way, especially in siting these new facilities, to get those outside of the flood prone areas.

When you have existing facilities, this becomes a little more problematic. Component protection is usually the best course of action, and also looking at things like dry land access. Are you able to get ingress and egress in that facility in case of that large event? Do you have adequate emergency operation plans, or continuity of operations plans?

Are there interdependencies or cascading affects? For example, if an electric utility, a switching station is impacted by the flood and goes down, what does that mean to the community? If the local hospital can’t get power, what are the impacts? In looking at those aspects, as the local official, you can provide better input into your elected leaders or to the developers and get those sited appropriately.

[Slide 16]

One of my favorite examples of critical facility impacts is the one of the Texas Medical Center in Houston and the damage to the medical center campus—two billion dollars. What I find fascinating about this is the storm that affected it was a tropical storm, not a Category One, Two, Three, Four, or Five hurricane, but a simple tropical storm.

Critical facilities, as I’ve mentioned before, can be very costly in terms of the physical impacts and repairing and doing those types of things. To the extent possible, there needs to be adequate planning to make sure those facilities are protected to a much higher level.

[Slide 17]

In terms of best practices for critical facilities, I want to give a couple of different types of things and ideas here. Certainly at a community level, critical facility standards can be incorporated into planning and zoning and building codes, flood plain management codes, or in the case of Boulder, Colorado, there could be a stand-alone critical facilities ordinance. This is something that is under the consideration of the city right now and basically, what the ordinance indicates is that new critical facilities are protected to 500 year flood elevation, plus one foot of freeboard.

It goes back to an earlier comment I said that it helps to reduce some uncertainty, because a 500 year flood level is simply a statistically modeled elevation. There can be bigger and higher events. In dealing with existing facilities, this ordinance proposes to grandfather them until they are substantially changed, and then when they are, they are looking at protecting them at that time.

At the state level, if you are working in overseeing a larger regional or state program, one of the examples—and this is one I am familiar with when I was the reviewer when I worked for the State Department of Natural Resources, our EPA provided loan assistance through the Division of Environmental Financial Assistance (DEFA). As a condition of that funding, there were critical facilities protection standards.

This wasn’t so much a regulatory approach as much as it was a condition of the loan or grant. It doesn’t neccisarily take a code to enforce that, but it was a criterion we were following because it simply made sense. If you are going to put what may be the largest single infrastructure investment in harm’s way to get damaged, that doesn’t make a lot of long term sense, financially or otherwise.

[Slide 18]

In terms of another best practice, and this is actually kind of exciting, the state of South Carolina and the state of Florida have been piloting some web portal applications tied to FEMA’s hazardous program. FEMA’s hazardous program is a risk assessment program. This is where I think emergency managers can plan a large role.

Emergency managers already have to identify critical infrastructure and are tending to identify essential facilities. If they are also in charge of hazard mitigation planning, they are looking at essential or critical facilities there as well. Some of these web portals at the state level provide an easy way for emergency managers to input, catalog and store that information so that both the state and community can work cooperatively to help inventory and assess those critical facilities.

FEMA provides some excellent technical resources. One of those is fairly new. I apologize for the cover image there, but it is "Design Guide for Critical Facilities" (FEMA-543 publication number). In there, and the following slide will show this, from the International Code Council there is an ICC based matrix that can help this decision making process. It has designs, standards, and recommendations.

[Slide 19]

This matrix is really what we have showing here in terms of where the top table looks at the magnitude of design events, if you are designing for a frequent or small event, and the building performance. You’ll see there are performance groups. Performance groups one and two are tending to be most structures, like residential or commercial.

In using this table, critical facilities by definition are in performance group three and four. For example, if you have a significantly critical facility in this performance group four during a very large event, from a design standpoint, the minimum threshold you should be designing for is some moderate damage.

You’ll see for large and other events, mild damage means "no physical building impacts". This bottom table actually shows the design events that we are defining. A very large flood event is "determined based on site-specific basis". Here is an interesting thing I thought—by using this matrix, what is defined as a medium event for flood is a 500 year flood level.

For building groups three and four, on the top here, the medium at the medium event, which is defined as the 500 year flood level, the impact should be mild. When you go into the publication, mild means there is no facility damage whatsoever. It is a good tool that is in that FEMA design guide.

[Slide 20]

I’d like to conclude with ASFPM recommendations for critical facilities. Again, the purpose of our White Paper is to raise awareness of critical facilities to policy makers and others. We have a series of recommendations in that document. On the first, on reconnecting land use decisions, funding and financing construction of facilities should be based on decisions that incorporate resilience and long term sustainability.

Communication and education for communities on the importance of flood risk and appropriate land use decisions is a really critical need. There isn’t good community awareness yet on critical facilities. To the extent we can, whether it be through hazard mitigation planning or other planning mechanisms, we need to raise awareness of those facilities.

The flood risk management thinking has to shift from short term to long term. These facilities have a design life, and it seems at least in building design and engineering, a lot of times facilities are asked to be used much longer than their design life. There has to be a long term aspect to the thinking.

Executive order 11988 is a federal executive order. That means it is applicable to federal agencies. We need to have better enforcement across the federal family of agencies of EO11988, and better guidance for the federal agencies.

The accurate flood mapping and information—FEMA has just gone through the map modernization initiative that didn’t so much provide as much new engineered data as it did converting the national inventory of maps (which is no small task) to a more digital and common platform. In FEMA’s new program risk map, we need to get back to doing some of the basic engineering studies and work on generating and updating that flood elevation information.

[Slide 21]

As a complement—EO11988 is a federal executive order—states, though, have the absolute ability to adopt state executive orders on flood plain management dealing with critical facilities, and states should strive to do that. State agencies, whether they are funding, financing, or directly undertaking development, have considerations for critical facilities.

The incorporation of higher minimum standards for critical facilities—most communities have basic flood plain management standards as required under the National Flood Insurance Program. There is lots of business performance data out here to definitively show that we need to have some higher standards for these types of facilities, and quite frankly, probably all facilities.

Again, standards such as going to a 500 year flood level, or even better, a 500 year flood level plus a freeboard, or if you don’t have the data, going to a 100 year flood year plus a significant freeboard (let’s say three or four feet) might be something that again, can start addressing that particular issue.

[Slide 22]

In conclusion, the cost of physical damages to critical facilities can be enormous. Going back to the Texas Medical Center—one medical center campus, two billion dollars in damage. That is more damage than any single flood event statewide in the state of Ohio’s history. We are talking one facility sustaining that much damage.

What that does, though, is transfers tax dollars and other resources from other existing programs to that flood recovery. Even with those high costs, the other effects can be more costly, whether it be functional down time, environmental damage, and other community impacts are just a few of those. Those are the things that could be truly devastating to a community whether it results in public safety and health issues, or heaven forbid, loss of life in some of those types of aspects.

That is the end of the presentation. Amy I think we will now be going to questions.

Amy Sebring: Thank you very much Chad. I do want to point out that we do have links on the background page to that FEMA design guide that you mentioned and to the Executive Order if folks want to delve into that, as well as the link to the White Paper of course. Now, to proceed to our Q&A.

[Audience Questions & Answers]

Evan Bedford: For existing facilities, are there minimum standards or guidelines for component protection, and to what level do time and logistics play into these standards?

Chad Berginnis: That is an excellent question. There is no necessarily set standard. I think there is a goal of a minimum of achieving 500 year protection, if that’s possible. This is how we did it with Ohio EPA and as we were working with the waste water treatment plants. When we were doing the review of the improvement plans for the facility, it was a much longer review and we would look at it from a component by component standpoint.

Usually the engineer on the project would suggest a certain level of protection and explain why. What we often found was that while there were certain things we could achieve, like a 500 year level of protection, there were other components—and this was a balance of what is feasible from a functionality standpoint, and also cost considerations factored into that as well.

Sometimes the component protection was less than 500 year, but we always had that set out as a goal. It is more difficult to try and do that, but again, I think it requires a lot more analysis on those components and some back and forth between the engineer that is working on the job and the community.

Isabel McCurdy: Chad, would you clarify what 'one foot of freeboard'' means?

Chad Berginnis: The concept of freeboard is a design standard above a particular frequency. Going back to the National Flood Insurance Program, the national default standard is the 100 year flood level or one percent flood level. A one foot of freeboard is saying that as a minimum code requirement everything has to be protected to one foot above the 100 year flood level.

Similarly, for 500 year level protection, a freeboard is something that is determined usually by the community and whatever safety factor they want to work with, whether it is one or two feet above. We had some communities in Ohio, that for critical facility protection, they had a standard of the 500 year flood level or three feet above the 100 year flood level. From a code standpoint, that is how they would implement that.

Wendy Marie Thomas: In this challenging economy, many states struggle to continue normal operations. What is your suggestion for getting state (and federal) leaders to identify the benefit (now and in the future) to invest in resilience "opportunities" amid current economic challenges?

Chad Berginnis: I think that argument, especially for critical facilities is a little easier to make because of the cost of damage to those facilities. It reminds me of when I was working with waste water treatment plants. A small community in Ohio just had a brand new waste water treatment plant constructed, and had a flood.

One thing about some of these floods is that the majority of flooding that occurs in this country is never declared federally, which means no disaster assistance dollars. In that particular flood event, and this was years ago, it was about 1.5 million dollars for the waste water treatment plant—that flood event cause a quarter of a million dollars in damage.

For a small community that is relying on service fees, tap fees, to barely make the debt payment on that facility, they can ill afford a $250,000 hit where no disaster assistance or other assistance is available. I think in this environment, critical facilities can be a first focus area because of the direct physical cost of damage as well as the cost of functional down time and other kinds of issues.

One statistic—there is different research out there—in a major flood, for example, there is research that indicates that anywhere between 24% and 60% of small businesses, after a major flood event, do not reopen. Those are the kind of economic arguments I would make to local decision makers in terms of making that more of a priority.

J.R. Jones: A simple, graphic tool, perhaps color-coded, showing the level of water in a community in each flood/tsunami water level could help citizens decide beforehand in which areas to build or height of solid building in which to evacuate would be useful. Does this already exist?

Chad Berginnis: With historical information, there is no kind of national mapping that is done in that way for historical floods. I would totally agree, that makes a lot of sense to create. In FEMA’s new risk map program, in terms of what the flood mapping program is turning into, one of the very promising data products that is being developed is something called a depth grid.

This is something that will have a lot of value in going to this particular comment. When you look at today’s flood map, what you basically see is a gray shaded area with a flood elevation. It is good data, but to a property owner or someone who is not as familiar with it, it doesn’t convey much in terms of the risk wherever you are in that flood zone.

This depth grid that is going to be provided with the new flood mapping coming out actually provides more richness to that data. What the depth grid can be made to show is actually in that flood zone, what the depth of flooding is relative to the ground elevation. If you know you are in a flood zone, using the depth grid, you could say, "Right where I’m standing, we might have 15 feet of water in depth, where as in a different area, we might have two feet of depth."

I think that is going to be a very promising communication tool in how new flood mapping is going to be generated.

Lisa Quinn: Are there prevention programs available for critical facilities to utilize in order to increase their level of protection?

Chad Berginnis: I am not aware of anything specifically in terms of grant programs focused on critical facilities. Certainly, some of the mitigation grant programs that area available, such as FEMA’s mitigation grant programs, they do allow and encourage protection to a higher level of flooding than the 100 year flood provided the project is still cost effective. There is a cost effectiveness very bright lined on eligibility.

You can protect to those higher levels provided it is cost effective to do that, but there is no specific program that I am aware of, at least on a national level. There could be some programs at the state or local level.

Bill Lesser: I suspect many communities have existing critical infrastructure that present existing problems, but where it is impractical to fully relocate. Are there examples of communities - or businesses - that have fully embraced the need to retrofit an existing critical facility? Does ASFPM have any general recommendations about how a community or business might mobilize such a retrofitting effort? Have you seen incremental steps that are typically taken to lead a retrofitting effort and if so what are they?

Chad Berginnis: I am trying to think off the top of my head. I am not aware of a community that has fully embraced community wide the concept of critical facility protection and a need to retrofit. Interesting, there are a lot of communities in California that have more fully embraced this from the standpoint of earthquake risk. I know there are a lot of investments on those because the earthquake risk is so high and the potential effects are so significant.

The San Francisco Bay area is one of those where I know from familiarity with their mitigation plan that it has a full and ongoing program of retrofitting in doing those. That doesn’t mean there aren’t communities; it just means I am just not aware.

In terms of general recommendations of how a community or business might mobilize such an effort—the one thing I always say to communities is that your flood problem did not create itself in a day. It probably created itself over decades if not longer in terms of doing that. It is unreasonable to expect a mitigation solution, especially if you are retrofitting, to be a short term endeavor.

In terms of guidelines of how a community might mobilize such an effort, or some steps to do that, is one—understand it is going to be a longer term effort, and you are first going to need to identify and inventory those critical facilities. Once those facilities have been identified or inventoried, then there needs to be an assessment in terms of relative risk of those. Are there facilities that are at higher risk versus others?

Based on that risk assessment, there can be prioritization of retrofitting. In terms of running a retrofitting program, there are some innovative ideas taken from other flood programs that can be applied here. There have been a few communities in Illinois that do small grant programs for flood proofing and those types of things. That is adaptable for critical facilities.

One area that has a lot of promise is the creation of storm water utilities. Communities all over the country have drainage issues, water quality issues, and those types of things. The storm water utility is basically an assessment of all properties in that jurisdiction. Those funds that get the utility set up correctly can be used also to deal with storm water quantity issues, or flooding.

That money provides a local match for grant funding and those types of things that can be leveraged. The approach needs to be inventory, assess relative risks, prioritize those critical facilities in terms of which ones need to be retrofitted first, and then have an ongoing and sustained, if not full funding source, at least a funding source where you can match grants and other opportunities that come by.

Amy Sebring: I was particularly glad you showed the Texas Medical Center in Allison. My recollection was that all of their emergency generators were down in the basement. That might be one component.

Chad Berginnis: Absolutely. As I understand with the situation in Japan right now, the backup power supply, the generators, were knocked out by the tsunami. Your primary and secondary defenses were knocked out.

Amy Sebring: Is there anything in particular, a reason why ASFPM has turned its attention to critical facilities at this point? Why now? What brought this on?

Chad Berginnis: I think there are a couple of things. One of those is that as we get more data from flood losses, critical facilities are those areas that have such a significant impact, whether it be monetarily or other community impacts, it is an area that is relatively focused—you can focus in on it and do something about it, and it creates great benefits.

Also, we have had a federal executive order for many years now, and in that executive order there is, especially in the more detailed, further advice document, talk about critical facilities. We have been aware for a long time that agencies don’t necessarily apply or evaluate or are attentive to that in any fashion.

Quite frankly, right now there are some opportunities at the federal level of trying to address it. At the federal level, the Federal Interagency Flood Plain Management Taskforce has been reconstituted. This was an entity that had not existed for 15 to 20 years. Prior to that, it helped coordinate federal efforts in terms of facilitating discussions on flood plain management. That has just been reconstituted.

We have an opportunity right now, at least at the federal level, to get the dialog and discussion going again, and we thought this would be good place to start.

Amy Sebring: If I’m not mistaken, the FY12 budget proposal is putting a deep cut in those mapping funds. Is that correct?

Chad Berginnis: Yes, unfortunately it is. There was a hearing on the National Flood Insurance Program last Friday or the Friday before, and I was listening over the weekend to a replay of the hearing online. What was interesting was there were a wide variety of people providing testimony representing realtors, homebuilders, taxpayer watchdog groups and so on, and there was a fairly consistent recognition that we need to make investments in flood mapping.

I will say that the FEMA risk map program, and it is more of an evolution than anything—but the concept of these depth grids in providing more risk assessment information is really going to help at the community level helping inform land use decisions and things like that.

The cut in mapping for the FY12 budget is very disconcerting, and it is one thing that if you are a flood or emergency manager, this is budget season right now and all of you in our wonderfully democratic system can’t provide input to your own members and express concerns that way.


Amy Sebring: Time to wrap for today. Thank you very much Chad. We appreciate your taking the time to be with us today and share this information, and we wish you the best in your new job with ASFPM.

We are pleased to welcome a new EIIP Partner today, Rice University located in Houston, Texas and represented by Dr. Linda Driskill. If your organization is interested in partnership, please see the link on our home page.

Again, the recording should be available later this afternoon. If you are not on our mailing list and would like to get notices of future sessions and availability of transcripts, just go to our home page to Subscribe.

Now PLEASE take a moment to do the rating/review! Note: We are asking you to rate the relevance of the information, and this will assist us in our future programming.

Please make plans to join us for our next program, Wed. April 13th, when our guests will be Dr. William Hooke, Chair of the National Research Council’s Committee on Private-Public Sector Collaboration to Enhance Community Disaster Resilience and Study Director Sammantha Magsino to speak about their report "Building Community Resilience through Private-Public Collaboration." This is a follow up to a recent program we have done on community resilience and of course it relates to our program today.

Thanks to everyone for participating today and have a great afternoon.