EM Forum Presentation — August 8, 2012

FloodSmart Tools and Resources
for Emergency Managers

Andrew T. Eastman
FloodSmart Program Manager
Senior Vice President, LeapFrog Solutions

Amy Sebring
EIIP Moderator

This transcript contains references to slides which can be downloaded from http://www.emforum.org/vforum/FEMA/FloodSmart.pdf
A video recording of the live session is available at http://www.emforum.org/pub/eiip/lm1200808.wmv
An audio podcast is available at http://www.emforum.org/pub/eiip/lm120808.mp3

[Welcome / Introduction]

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

Today’s topic is about the tools and resources available from FloodSmart that you can use in your own communities to educate your residents about flood risks. We know that there is still a good deal of misunderstanding out there in the public although flooding happens all the time and in most parts of the country. Ultimately, this is all about resilient communities.

[Slide 1]

Now it is my pleasure to introduce Andrew Eastman. Andrew is a program manager for the FloodSmart program and is responsible for oversight and management of the marketing, advertising and public relations with FEMA’s NFIP.

He is also a first responder himself, as a 17-year veteran of the volunteer fire service and currently serves as Fire Chief of the Dunn Loring Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department in Fairfax County, Virginia. Please see today’s Background Page for further biographical detail and related links.

Welcome Andrew, 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.


Andrew Eastman: Thank you for that very nice introduction. I am very pleased to have the opportunity to speak out to a community that I am very familiar with and is very close to my heart as a first responder and chief officer.

Beyond that my responsibilities really rely heavily on a large team of specialists that support FEMA in an effort to educate the community about flood risks and how they can better prepare themselves not only through traditional preparedness and mitigation activities but also through financial security and flood insurance.

We try to tackle the question from a couple of different fronts and I’ll give you a little bit of an overview this morning on the FloodSmart program and what we do to engage the public as well as the insurance industry who is a key partner of ours and stakeholders like you who can help spread the news about flood education and risk and the options that homeowners, commercial business owners have as well as condominium owners and renters to purchase insurance and protect themselves more effectively against the risk of flooding.

[Slide 2]

I’m going to go ahead and take you through a little bit of the background on the FloodSmart campaign. I’ll try not to go too deep into that but I want to make sure we are level set on our understanding of what it is all about and accomplish our goals.

I am also going to share with you some campaign learnings as we call it which may be beneficial to you not only in flood outreach but outreach across all other emergencies and hazards you deal with on a day in and day out basis. I am going to provide you an overview of various tools and resources that are available to you through FloodSmart via our website and directly from us as is needed.

[Slide 3]

We actually work in conjunction with many different programs to try and accomplish the goal of flood risk education. As you see in this particular slide we work not only hand in hand with other FEMA partners such as the Risk Mitigation Division and the Risk Map Initiative, that is really focusing on the remapping activities that are taking place across the nation, but we also work with other stakeholders like the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and their Silver Jackets teams across the United States.

We also reach beyond that to communities such as emergency managers, county officials, flood plain management professionals and anyone who really has a role in flood education and flood preparedness and response.

[Slide 4]

FloodSmart first and foremost is a marketing campaign. Its goal is to educate Americans about flood risk. Once they understand what their risk is and whether they are in a high risk area or a moderate to low risk area encourage them to financially protect themselves with flood insurance.

Right now as emergency managers I am sure you are are well aware, a lot of public has a perception that FEMA is there to bail them out in the time of disaster. As you know disaster assistance if it is granted at an individual level really provides only a limited amount of funds to help a family get back on their feet and nothing for the real long term recovery.

Our goal is to get the focus off disaster assistance and try and clear the misconceptions of that and drive people to a greater understanding of their flood risk and how they can protect themselves through insurance which will provide them many more benefits and the ability to not only get back on their feet but to restore their lives to back close to what they had previously.

We do have an annual goal set for us to try to increase policies held by consumers by five percent annually.

[Slide 5]

Marketing along these lines is fairly sophisticated and really takes into several different types of approaches—public awareness being one you are very familiar with in your roles as emergency managers.

We also do a lot of direct to the consumer marketing, which you might be more familiar with as a consumer yourself, with various companies who offer products and services reach out to the consumer through a variety of different means to get them to take the call to action and actually transact whether it is a policy or buying a product, etcetera.

We also have to work from the business-to-business front to make sure the business community, who is also a supporter of this, can get in there and help out and that they understand what is available to them as potential flood victims in the future.

[Slide 6, 7]

We have an integrated campaign. That includes not only an official website known as FloodSmart.gov but we also provide a secondary website for the insurance industry who is a key partner in this. We complement this with search engine marketing so we use keywords that we buy through Google ensure that consumers are directed to information on flood insurance and to the website.

We also do online marketing through what are called banner ads or online display ads shown on any number of different websites. We do something called direct response TV. This is the industry term for television commercials. When a television commercial has a call of action to dial a specific number or go to a specific website we track the consumer when they actually make that call or click on that URL to go to a website.

Additionally we have a very robust direct mail campaign. We actually find that direct mail is much more effective in this environment than in other product or service arenas so we do concentrate heavily on this and see a tremendous consumer response to it.

We run print ads whether this is in local and national papers and magazines. We have cooperative advertising with the insurance industry where they can place ads in yellow pages as well as on the radio. There are a number of different formats in that regard.

We have very heavy public relations and media relations program much as you might at your level within your communities we are interacting with the national and local media based on current events, what is happening and what their needs are. We have a plethora of resources for the media and for the public on factual information about the National Flood Insurance Program as well as flood risk and insurance information.

Finally, as I mentioned earlier, we do radio advertising as well.

[Slide 8]

A few things to prompt your thinking—I’m sure you are aware that many of your constituents have misconceptions about flooding and what they have to do to prepare for it. We went to ask our consumers a series of questions and one of those, as you see on the screen was—how percent of Americans believe they are prepared for a disaster?

You probably know this answer as well as we do—it is an alarming only sixteen percent. So much of what we are trying to accomplish at FEMA as you are well aware of and the messaging that the administrator Craig Fugate is sending out to the emergency management community is to build that resiliency within the community and to continue to educate and clear up the misconceptions, build awareness, and to ensure that the individual citizen is taking more responsibility for their preparedness.

[Slide 9]

The question to follow along with is—why aren’t we prepared? Here are a couple of different answers that were fairly common. That begged the question of—what kind of state are they in? What is their state of mind? Why are they thinking this way?

[Slide 10]

Our research continued to address the issue of the state of denial which is what we find a lot of our consumers are facing when they are talking about disaster and specifically flooding. Some of the common responses we found—"It didn’t flood last time so it won’t flood next time. I live behind a levee so I’m safe. I’m not in a flood zone so I won’t be flooded. I’ve lived here for twenty years without a flood so I’m not at risk." One of the fun ones—"We sit under a high pressure zone so we won’t get a big storm."

Understanding that these are real responses from real consumers and constituents out there really leaves us with great concern about what their frame of mind is with regards to flooding as a disaster altogether.

[Slide 11]

What’s not working? "There’s a one percent chance" isn’t a meaningful way to communicate. We have suffered historically from the "hundred year" or the "five hundred year floodplain". At the time those terms were coined it probably seemed like a good idea to try to put it in the context that a consumer or citizen can understand.

What we have found historically is that continuing to reference to the fact that they are in a hundred year floodplain sets that image in their mind that if it hasn’t flooded in the last ten years I have another ninety years to go before I have the next flood. As you and I know that is not reality.

We are trying to get back to educating them about their flood risk and what a one percent chance really means so that they are better prepared to make better decisions about how to protect themselves and prepare for a disaster in the future.

Personal experience—a lot of people rely on that personal experience and therefore it is not really a good gauge of whether things are going to happen, as you know.

[Slide 12]

Our real challenge is overcoming resistance. For risk communication the messages must be more personally relevant. We really need to make it personal and local. We find that when we aggregate numbers and give a larger, broader perspective like–flooding is the number one natural disaster in the United States—that sounds really powerful as a message.

But when we get down to how that applies in our local communities, where are the real risks? People have a short term memory and they tend not to remember what happened six, nine months or even a year ago. We have to continually remind them the risk persists.

What we have found is aggregating information at the local level—we’ve had x number of disasters, x number of floods, hurricanes, tornados, severe storms, severe weather storms in the winter, severe snow causing run-off—all these sorts of things if we can localize it and make it more personally relevant to the individual they are more likely to make that connection.

A lot of our tactics when we focus at that local level is doing that specifically. We do a lot around flood anniversaries and major flooding events that they can be aware of. We have seasonal outreach that we follow around hurricanes, winter flooding and spring flooding seasons.

Messages must be heard. Coming from multiple messengers is critical. What we’ve learned about the community today that is different from a decade ago or further is that people rely more heavily now due to social media on peer networks. Getting the influence from others that aren’t officials is very important.

We found that people are more likely to decide whether they are going to buy a product or service if they have heard good things from their friends or someone in their community they trust and admire. We try to tap into that by creating multiple messengers beyond just government officials, emergency management professionals, and the federal government to try to convey the same message. We try to do that simultaneously to get the most benefit.

We also want to make sure our messages are actionable. We need to lead the consumer to be sure they know what to do to take action. Just telling them they are at risk only confounds the issue more for them. Providing the information up front is very valuable so they understand what they can do next to take action to prepare themselves. What are the tools they have available?

[Slide 13]

Make the risk relevant—the more local the better. What has happened in your community? What are the potential sources of flooding? Do the people in your community understand that there are actually floodplains around them? Do they understand they don’t just have to be in a severe floodplain to be a victim of flooding?

Is there a major ongoing development in your area where earth is being raised to build new developments of townhomes or apartment structures or whatever it might be and as a result there is no vegetation left to absorb that runoff? Is there a ski resort because you have a mountainous region and have heavy snowfalls and as a result you get the spring melt and then we get flooding that occurs in a cycle from that.

Are people aware that when there is heavier snowfall there is going to be a greater potential for flooding and the flood levels may be higher than what has occurred in the past? There is any number of things. Sometimes it doesn’t take a natural disaster to cause this. There can be man-made disasters that result in flooding—storm water backups, sewage system backups—anything along those lines.

If a storm system is not well-maintained a series of light rains over time can cause a backup and can cause flooding and then we have people in the situation where they didn’t even realize it was a disaster.

[Slide 14]

We also need to personalize the message. People react personally to personally identifiable situations. If they have experienced something in the past whether it is in your community or somewhere they came from, or they have relatives who have experienced it, that is a very effective way to get the message across.

They want to hear that message from people like themselves. When you get the government official up there those people that tend to not trust the political infrastructure then are going to tune it out. We really want to look at people who are recognized to be from their peer group to convey that information as well.

We do that through testimonials—people who have been victims of flooding that can help communicate that message. We also want to make sure we target the message to the audience. Be sure you know who you are speaking to and you craft that message to their level of understanding.

[Slide 15]

Use multiple messengers as I talked about before. I have a lot of different logos up here from the state of Texas but this would be an example if you were in Texas not only do you want to work with the independent insurance agents, you might want to work with the realtors, the building associations, the water development board, the storm water management as well as the news media.

In Texas we actually had a meteorologist from a Houston station who was a victim of flooding and didn’t have flood insurance and later rebuilt and got flood insurance and got flooded again. He was the perfect candidate for conveying a message and he was a person people trusted. It was very effective to use him as a testimonial.

Look at ways to work with others in the community beyond just your government officials and the peers you have in your own group to try to communicate that message.

[Slide 16]

We also need to send that message to expect more from people. This comes directly from Administrator Fugate down through the whole emergency management community. We need to let people understand what they need to do and that they need to own their own preparedness and not be so reliant on emergency management structure to bail them out of the system whenever there is a flood. We have to provide them those detailed specifics as to what they can do.

There are a number of different campaigns around flooding. Some of those are not only from FEMA but from the Corps of Engineers, the floodplain management community, the fFire and rescue service—a number of different ways we can partner to try and get a common message out there around preparedness and awareness.

[Slide 17]

Communicating consequences is critical in delivering the message. We focus on the threat to security, how it can impact their financial fortitude in the future and how savings can be drained. We look at it as a threat to their way of life. Could I lose my home and possessions? Could it destroy my children’s college education hopes? Could it destroy my business? Could I end up being homeless and destitute?

We really need to understand how severe this can be. We have to ensure they understand the threat to their peace of mind. It is not pleasant. If you’ve ever dealt with a flood it is really a horrible environment to recover from.

[Slide 18]

We need to ensure we are reaching out when decisions are being made. We can do this through weather events, flood anniversaries, various safety and emergency management events that are going on, map changes if there are map changes occurring in your community, levees, coastal issues as well as those people who are moving.

We are looking at all these different aspects continually and understanding the audience and what is most important to them to try and ensure that when they are making their decisions and when they are moving that they understand in their community. Does it flood? Do they experience severe weather? Are they down the road from a levee? Are they close to the coast and could experience coastal surges?

[Slide 19]

Those are all the things that go into our thinking around the FloodSmart resources and tools. I wanted to now talk to you about what is available to you as emergency managers to leverage.

[Slide 20]

We have assembled a specific webpage at FloodSmart.gov for community officials. This is the screen capture of that page. It provides a whole series of opportunities for you to help others get smart about flooding. We have some "get started" tips, some information about flooding in your community and then tools and resources. I’ll go into this a little bit more.

[Slide 21]

Some of those resources are focused on coastal issues. Others are focused on levee issues. We have information about the commercial environments for those business owners out there who need to be aware of what is available to them as well as residential. We recognize that the largest pool of constituents are the residential homeowners so a lot of tools are focused on them so we can increase their awareness overall.

[Slide 22]

We have shareable tools. We have actual applets. They are animated scenarios where you can interact with them and gain different information. One of those is a flood risk scenario. You can actually go in and look at how much an inch of flooding would cost based on average claim estimates over time.

You can increase that up to seven inches, twelve inches and even up to eighteen inches and it will give you some expectation of what the losses would be. People often just do not understand that the cost of flooding can be significant. One inch can cause tens of thousands of dollars of damage in their homes. This tool helps them understand that.

The Cost of Flooding Tool gets into those cost elements beyond the risks and gets into the cost elements. We have the flood risk scenarios explaining how flooding can occur and the cost of flooding tool to explain the cost elements.

Finally for those of you who are in communities where there are levees we developed last year a levee simulator to talk about the potential dangers of living around a levee. It talks about overtopping, undermining and all the different types of levee failures that occur. We have to try to convey that message to those around levees not to have a false sense of security just because you have a levee that is protecting you.

Levees are only good to a certain point. Water levels as we could see last year in Missouri and Mississippi demonstrated how even the best of levees that are maintained appropriately can still be overtopped and have flooding behind them.

[Slide 23]

We also have seasonally themed widgets. On the website—we’ll go to the website in a few minutes to show you where these are located—the seasonal themed widgets are applets you can embed on your own website so if your city, county or state have websites specifically focused for emergency management you can take these and add them as code into those websites.

If you don’t know how to do that, work with your webmasters. They can go to our website, pull them off, and you get professionally done information that is consistent with the FEMA marketing message that gets the message out to consumers on these different topics. Those are available not only FloodSmart.gov but FEMA.gov at the URL at the bottom of the screen.

[Slide 24]

I saw a question earlier about social media and how we tune in using Smartphones. We are actively using social media content that reaches out to that community of users who are more interested in the social networking environment. Working with FEMA External Affairs we have a regular program sending messages out through Twitter that continues to call attention to flood, flood risk, flood awareness and flood insurance.

We also have a tab on the Facebook site for FEMA that provides much of the same information that is available on FloodSmart.gov but is focused more towards those users who prefer Facebook versus the traditional website.

[Slide 25]

We have the various resources online and I won’t go into those much now—but kits of information you can use for flood outreach if you are around levees or if you want to work with insurance professionals in your community.

[Slide 26]

We have updated map change toolkits so if you are in a community that is going through remapping—a lot of consternation amongst the public who are going through this—so we have tools out there to help community officials such as yourselves actually go in and help communicate more effectively the pros and cons of remapping and what an individual can do to be prepared for a map change.

[Slide 27]

Coming soon—we are always developing new tools. We have a coastal simulator currently in development. It should be out later this year. Much like the levee simulator it is going to talk about what happens in the coastal environment when you get storm surges that come in and how it will affect residents and other structures on the coastline.

We also have several coastal videos in development—one for the Gulf Coast community and others for those in the Northeast that deal with the nor’easters that come up their way. We also are looking at the Great Lakes community and the types of flooding they deal with on a coastal basis as well as the West Coast storms.

We will be developing a whole coastal web page as a part of FloodSmart.gov to address coastal issues specifically. That is one of those issues where we are working collaboratively with other organizations like the Corps of Engineers and the National Weather Service. We also are working on regional direct mail campaigns that focus on coastal issues.

[Slide 28]

Right now up on FloodSmart.gov we do have two coastal testimonials. These are flood survivors from Hurricane Irene last year. We have one up in the Northeast in Waterbury, Vermont and she talked about the issues they had up in that region which really caught them off guard.

Then someone from a long time residence of the Outer Banks of North Carolina who deals with flooding regularly and in this case, flooded as a result of Hurricane Irene. Two very powerful testimonials that I encourage you to take a look at and consider using, linking to on your website.

[Slide 29]

As I mentioned before we have a community tab on the FloodSmart.gov website and we can absolutely go out and take a look at that.

[Slide 30]

Those are the basic tools. Amy if you could potentially switch over and take a look at the internet I could go to the website and show where these resources are.

Amy Sebring: Thank you very much Andrew. We are going to take some questions, and then time permitting we will demo some more of these resources.

[Audience Questions & Answers]

Isabel McCurdy: Andrew, is flood insurance too costly for most consumers?

Amy Sebring: I would like to add on to that. What is the average premium cost in a special flood hazard area versus outside?

Andrew Eastman: Flood insurance can go as little as $129 a year for a policy but that is really the cheapest and smallest amount of coverage. We don’t want to be misleading to the consumer in that regard. We look at flood insurance by whether you are in a special flood hazard area, which is the highest risk area or the non-special flood hazard area, which is the moderate to low risk area.

Keep in mind the largest number of consumers out there are in the moderate to low risk category. If we look at that singularly and we know the entry point for protection is as little as $129 per year it can be quite affordable for the consumer who may not experience flooding on a regular basis but may have potential based on where they live.

Of course we know that everybody lives in a flood zone—how severe the flooding occurs there or not is based on a number of different factors. When we look at average costs of a non-flood hazard area policy you are probably looking at the $400 to $500 range to look at content as well as structure coverage for that home. There are a number of variables in there. Coverage for houses can go up to $250,000 and for contents up to $100,000 so it is important to look at what option is best to suit you.

Are you in an area where you are likely to have flooding or there is a potential to have flooding even though you are moderate to low risk? Look at how high you feel that would go based on historical records, the value of your home and the value of the contents. You may not need protection to cover all floors of your structure but to provide a basic level of coverage for the first floor might be appropriate. Each consumer is going to have to evaluate their situation and determine but it is very cost effective for the majority of consumers.

We talked about special flood hazard areas, the high risk folks who live in flood zones that are very likely to flood or coastal environments where there is higher risk of flooding because of hurricane or tropical storm activity, and then the costs are much higher. To say it is affordable really depends on your level of income.

It is very pricey and I’ll let you know right now that if you have not been following the Reform Act of 2012 that recently passed through the House and Senate and was signed into law by President Obama that has started to remove certain subsidies that have been in place for years. Those subsidies will be removed in 25 percent increments over the course of four years until it is fully implemented.

Those who have been buying flood insurance or considering flood insurance at subsidized rates are going to see significant increases. We are just starting to understand what the impacts of those are and we are working on messaging. None of these will really go into effect until January of 2013 so we have time to work with you and others in the community to prepare people for this eventuality.

Amy Sebring: Is flood insurance available to renters?

Andrew Eastman: It is available to renters absolutely. Typically as a renter you are only interested in content protection but it is also available to condominium owners. Many of the coastal communities have residential condominium complexes. While the condominium association that owns the overall building may have coverage on the building the individual condominium unit owner can also have coverage to make sure they are protected to the level they feel comfortable.

You have to understand what protections are available through your condominium association and then look to see if that is going to protect you sufficiently in your own unit.

Amy Sebring: One would expect for the renters who are just doing contents, that would be fairly affordable.

Andrew Eastman: It would be very affordable. I don’t have rate information in front of me for renters but we are talking low amounts. Small business owners especially—a lot of large businesses will have commercial liability policies that will umbrella everything. For the smaller business owner who may be leasing their facility they may want to look at contents coverage as well.

If they do own their own facility they should look at both structure and content protection if they don’t have that kind of liability policy through their commercial insurance.

Avagene Moore: Thanks, Andrew. In trying to bring flooding issues to citizens, are you aware how closely emergency managers and floodplain managers work together? Does this vary from state to state or community to community?

Andrew Eastman: We seek to work with everybody and our approach is from marketing. We have to take several different approaches to working with communities. We don’t have an endless budget. It would be nice but we have to take the budget we are afforded and spread it most effectively.

So while we work across the nation we do target certain communities that have a higher propensity to flooding than others to target specific initiatives at that level to get consumers to go ahead and protect themselves effectively. It doesn’t have to be in the number one flooded community. It can also be seen in the Tier Two communities that may flood less frequently but do have major flooding disasters.

For example in the state of Tennessee they got hit on both ends last year with a series of floods that really devastated communities across the state. We identify that as a specialty market because they are not coastal or of one of the major river valleys so we look at special needs across the state and are looking to engage within at a community level and do specific programs.

We try to not only work with floodplain management but any other community official like emergency managers who are dealing with these issues first hand. If there is a need in your community feel free to contact us and we can figure out what level of support we can provide you whether that is sending people out to talk to audiences, sending you materials, and sometimes we have giveaways that we can give to the public to help reinforce the message and as an enticement for them to come in.

We can look at special media events where we can use our resources working with the media at the local level and maybe get you some more support you don’t normally get from your media partners in your local community. I would say that yes it varies from state to state and community to community. It is really driven by the activities in those communities and how much they reach out to us to partner and where they fit in the overall priority scheme for us to engage.

Amy Sebring: Do you do a certain schedule each year on some of the major conferences, either the professional associations or industry type conferences?

Andrew Eastman: Absolutely. In fact we hit about fifty conferences in the course of the year. Most of those are more national level or in the high propensity communities. For example we hit a number of conferences along the Gulf Coast in the Southeast along the coast line this year but not exclusively.

We targeted some other communities across the United States and worked with the National Association of Floodplain and Storm Water Management, as well as the Association of Floodplain Managers and National Association of Counties—some of those larger nationwide organizations where we can reach a large number of stakeholders all at once.

We do something like we’re doing here today. We engage with community and state level organizations through webinars. If we have communities that want to get in and get understanding we can set up these kinds of exchanges which may be more cost effective than sending our resources and exhibits out to conventions.

We do have a robust conference and events schedule and we are always looking for new opportunities. We did NEMA last fall. I did the Virginia Emergency Management Association this spring. We seek to work with those communities.

Amy Sebring: You mentioned your partnership with National Weather Service and or NOAA coastal program; can you talk a little bit more about what you worked on with the National Weather Service?

Andrew Eastman: We work on a number of fronts. Specialty areas are focused on levee, dam and coastal issues. There are a number of multiagency task forces that are working to try and ensure that all agencies are working towards a common goal, that we are using consistent messaging and that we can combine the power and resources of multiple agencies to reach a broader number of community officials and members of the public.

We are working with the Silver Jackets at a state level. The Silver Jackets are an interagency working group. It is part of the Corps of Engineers. They are working more at the state level to try and bring state level partners together on issues around flooding, infrastructure, levees, and dams. It is broader than just flooding but they are a community just like the emergency management community that we are working with because they are combination of different agencies working together.

There is in every state or the majority of states a Silver Jackets group but it falls under the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. They are the ones leading that up. It is another group we can work with to try and extend the reach of FEMA and FloodSmart to even more communities.

Kelli E Merritz: With the current drought, are the affected communities less likely to prepare for flooding? How should public officials address these communities?

Andrew Eastman: It is a great question Kelli, because the thought is that if we are in a drought condition that we are not really at much of a flood risk. Any of you who have dealt with a drought environment—as soon as it rains that ground is so parched it can’t quickly absorb the water so we have a greater flooding issue as a result of the drought.

Because we have this misconception—we have a drought so when it rains we won’t have a problem because the ground will absorb it and everything will be great again—that is not true. We have to ensure that community officials are not communicating the wrong messages in times of drought.

Eventually the rain will come and even if it is a smaller amount of rain you can have localized flooding as a result of the drought conditions. It is one of the things we continue to focus on in our communications. It is one of the typical forms of flooding that occur—post drought flooding.

I would like to tack onto that what is happening across the nation with wildfires. People don’t necessarily connect wildfires with flooding. It is an interesting oxymoron. When we get the ground scorched and removed of all its vegetation we have runoff issues. There is less for the water to absorb.

The structure of the earth at the surface that has been burned actually makes it difficult to absorb the water. You have an increased potential of runoff and therefore flooding and it is complicated by mud, soot, ash and all that coming together to make a really horrendous mixture of material to drag through anybody’s property.

We want to make sure people understand that whether it is drought, wildfires or development—all these things that are not in the forefront of their thinking as causing flooding is now in the forefront of their thinking and that they are prepared for it.

Amy Sebring: I wanted to leave some time for you to show the website Andrews so we’ll move to your desktop sharing.

Andrew Eastman: I noticed a question that floated by in regard to the community rating system. The CRS is—you are probably familiar with that but not every single community is in the CRS so I wanted to address that particular issue. We work with CRS very closely.

I think the question was really around the potential that CRS was going to integrate with the FloodSmart website. We are actually working with CRS to integrate their content into FloodSmart.gov. It will be a present and section like community resources where you will have all the access to information that CRS is putting out through the website. That will be in the near future. We are going through a major redesign effort right now.

I don’t have a definitive date but it will probably be late fall or probably winter of this year before that content is integrated. We are in the development phase right now and making sure we meet all their requirements.


Andrew Eastman: This is FloodSmart.gov. Over on the left hand side of the screen we have the basic navigation menu and you will find community resources linked there. This is really the page we designed for folks just like you to provide you the resources that are focused to a community official who is trying to get the word out versus the general public.

We have tried to frame the messaging and provide the tools you would need in that regard. As you can see we have three different tabs here. We are on the Getting Started page. We have one on flooding in your community where we actually talk about what you do after a flood, heavy rain situations, hurricanes, levee failures, map changes and wildfires.

Most of the issues are addressed right here to help you position the correct information with a consistent message to your constituents. We also have the tools and resources tab which has a series of tools that are available to you.

We have interactive tools and banners. We have materials and we provide links to the materials available to you that might be useful. We also have toolkits. I brought that up in the presentation before—a basic flood outreach toolkit. This is a series and collection of different pieces of marketing literature that you can use to communicate the issue of flooding to your community.

We have one that is designed around map changes in your community. If you are a levee community we have specific tools around communicating the issues associated with levees.

We have a whole series of testimonials as I mentioned earlier. We put one up this summer on levee issues. These are senior officials—in fact, David Miller, our Associate Administrator of the Flood Insurance Program is interviewed here. He was interviewed before he left Iowa as the emergency manager.

We have a couple of other officials in the Corps of Engineers talking about flooding issues and levees specifically. That might be of interest to you as well as a series of other videos. I’m not going to play them right now because they are not going to come across very effectively but I encourage you to go out and explore.

We have one that is tailored toward commercial—poke around and see what will appeal to you and the folks in your community. I mentioned before about the widgets—we have one around seasonal flooding, the hurricane season we are in right now and we’ll be doing a peak hurricane season media blitz at the end of this month.

Then we have the flood after fire tool. These can all be embedded on your websites. If you are not comfortable doing it your webmaster should be able to pull this down pretty easily and put it on your website.

Those are the sorts of tools. We don’t really have time to go into each one but please go in and check them out. If you don’t see something you need feel free to reach out to FloodSmart. We have so many different resources that are in our archives. There may be something very tailored to what you need. Just because it is not here and you can’t see it please let us know. As you see here on the right hand side of the screen we have an email link for you to go ahead and contact us.

Those are the resources specifically designed for you. Then you have this whole website that you can direct your citizens to for more information on flooding, flood risk, and flood insurance whether they are residential or commercial. We also have preparedness and recovery information here we can direct them to. It is not just all about preparedness. We also have other resources and we link to FEMA.gov for that.

If you wanted to check out your own personal risk you can go into the flood risk profile and type your address. Notice we do not collect any personal information—no names or telephone numbers. You just put your information in there with your address and indicate whether it is residential.

For example if I put in my address—I’m here in northern Virginia—I can go ahead and click this. This is a quick way for the system to come back and give me an idea. I get my flood risk profile. It tells me I am at a moderate to low risk for flooding and gives me some estimated annual premium costs.

Contents range from the smallest amount of coverage to largest and the same for the building and then combined. As you can see I can get that $129 preferred risk policy if I want the minimum amount of coverage. That is going to be entry point for non-special flood hazard areas.

It also gives me a listing of agents based on my proximity to agents’ offices. I can go through this link and actually get a whole list of agents that could be available to me.

Amy Sebring: Do you make some means available for agents to put their information in and keep it updated?

Andrew Eastman: Agents have to participate in what we call the referral program. We have a separate site called Agents.FloodSmart.gov. I’ll show you that.


This is a website entirely structured for the insurance agent. It is more about how they can sell flood insurance. It provides them education and training and marketing information—how to sell a policy.

Through this website they can register to be a part of the FloodSmart program and they can receive referrals. So when a homeowner does a search then if they are the closest they will have their name and information come up and get a referral.

Not only can they do this through the website but those consumers who still prefer to call a phone number and get that support we have a toll free number at the top of the page. It goes to the FloodSmart call center and they can help identify an agent in the area as well as get additional information to the consumer about flood risk and insurance.

That is basically the straightforward portion of the website. I could go through a lot more. I did see one question fly by earlier about flood maps. It is an area I am not an expert on because it falls under the mitigation division but I wanted to mention that since we have another minute.

The idea of transmitting flood maps is certainly a great idea and we want to get information out there. There is a series of technical challenges in doing that now that is outside of the purview of FloodSmart to address that. The mitigation division is looking at ways to get that information out more easily.

What we do through FloodSmart is provide information on how you can find your flood maps and that links over to FEMA.gov and we also provide information on map changes and when they are going to be occurring based on information sent to us by FEMA and the mitigation division.

I like to concept of being able to have more real time flood maps available in times of emergencies but I think there is a series of technical challenges we face before we’ll be able to get to that point.


Amy Sebring: Time to wrap for today. On behalf of Avagene, myself, and all our participants today, thank you very much Andrew for sharing this information with us. There are some very usable resources on your site. We wish you continued success with FloodSmart in the future.

Please note, our next program is planned for August 29th. We have five Wednesdays this month so we are moving that to the end of the month so please plan to join us then.

Thanks to everyone for participating today. Have a great afternoon everyone. We are adjourned.