EM Forum Presentation — May 8, 2013

Interagency 'Silver Jackets' State Teams
Life-Cycle Flood Risk Management

Jennifer Dunn, CFM
Silver Jackets Program Manager
Institute for Water Resources

Brandon R. Brummett, P.E., PMP
Outreach Coordinator
Louisville District

Jason F. Miller, P.E.
Chief, Flood Plain Management Services Branch
Philadelphia District

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Amy Sebring
EIIP Moderator

This transcript contains references to slides which can be downloaded from http://www.emforum.org/vforum/USACE/SilverJackets.pdf
A video recording of the live session is available at http://www.emforum.org/pub/eiip/lm130508.wmv
MP3 format at http://www.emforum.org/pub/eiip/lm130508.mp3
or in MP4format at http://www.emforum.org/pub/eiip/lm130508.mp4

[Welcome / Introduction]

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

As you no doubt are aware, the Midwest is again experiencing significant spring flooding.  Today we are going to learn about an interagency initiative, the Silver Jackets program, that has been implemented at the state level across the country for the purpose of reducing the risks associated with flooding and other natural hazards.

Today’s recordings and a copy of the slides will be available from our site later this afternoon.  A transcript will be available early next week.

[Slide 1]

Now it is my pleasure to welcome today’s guests: Jennifer Dunn is the national Silver Jackets Manager within the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Institute for Water Resources Flood Risk Management Program.

Representing the Indiana Silver Jackets is Brandon Brummett, Outreach Coordinator for the Corps’ Louisville District.  He works closely with the Lead for the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, Manuela Johnson, who will try to join us later in the program today since she is currently responding to events in her state as the State Disaster Relief Fund Administrator.

Also with us representing the New Jersey Silver Jackets is Jason Miller, Water Resources Engineer for the Corps’ Philadelphia District.  He works with Alicia Gould, currently detailed from the Corps to the President's Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force.  Alicia will also try to join us later on.

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


Jennifer Dunn: Thank you, Amy and the EM Forum for having us on today.  Before we get started I would like to answer the question that I expect is on many folks’ minds—why the name “Silver Jackets”?   As you know when FEMA is deployed they wear blue jackets and the Corps wears red.  

The concept of Silver Jackets is to unify the agencies in service to the state.  The name of Silver Jackets is intended to bring the red and blue jackets together with the many other agents relevant to flood risk management.  We are not always the silver bullet and often folks confuse that but we do come together to get the work done.

[Slide 2]

As an organization the Corps of Engineers has evolved from flood control to flood damage reductions to flood risk management.  We now think about flood risk management as a life cycle with four phases that drive governmental consistencies with the events serving as our report card.

We can see here we have programs from other agencies and how we can work together during various phases.  The concept of Silver Jackets is leveraging these programs for the common purpose.  We focus on supporting the state and local priorities and objectives. We align the core programs with our partner federal agencies for that common purpose.  This forces us , rightfully, to be risk managers and not just emergency managers.

In doing so we hope we can spend less time on the right side with response and recovery and more time on the left side with preparation and training.

[Slide 3]

Even with the full array of federal programs we feds have neither the authority nor resources to fully manage the flood risk.  To borrow a phrase from FEMA it will take the whole community.  Flood risk management is really a team sport.  We all share the responsibility.  We can best manage the risks when we can collaborate in developing and implementing shared solutions.

Those solutions are both structural and non-structural.  With a combination of measures our goal is to drive down the risk to an acceptable and tolerable level but we are always aware that there is the residual risk that always remains.  That is the lower bar.

[Slide 4]

The Silver Jackets program is how we operationalize the foundation of life cycle for flood risk management and shared responsibility. USACE supports our own folks through the Silver Jackets program so I refer to the Silver Jackets program as the Corps’ program but the teams are state led.  

The team members participate and implement their programs as their agency resources allow.  The teams don’t necessarily call themselves Silver Jackets all the time.  The Silver Jackets is a the program the Corps has implemented to support our folks to these teams.  The teams are state led and they can call themselves whatever they life.

Often there is an existing team that has been expanded so the name of Silver Jackets may not attach.  It may the state hazard mitigation team or another team that comes together with the same concept as Silver Jackets.

The first fundamental principal is that the teams are state led.  Each state sets the priorities for their own teams and the federal agencies work together with the state agencies, local and tribe to support those priorities.  One significant advantage of that state leadership is that the states can invite partners that they feds can’t.  

We are governed by FACA so the states have much more freedom.  Another is an interagency method of delivery.  The point is that we are accessing an interagency forum to deliver our programs so these are existing programs but we are delivering them in a collaborative group so we can access the talent, data and funding that is available through all levels of government.

One significant point about Silver Jackets with the Corps is that these teams are continuous.  Often the Corps is very project oriented and we can’t have a continuous conversation but with these teams we can follow through year after year with the states on their priorities.   This enables us to really embrace the foundation of life cycles for flood risk management and it also gives us a point of contact in other states so we can facilitate regional state to state flood risk management.

[Slide 5]

That’s the philosophy behind the program.  Often when I get to that point folks say that’s all great, but what do you actually do?  This slide and the next are some samples of what the team’s activities are.  You’ll see that activities are really as diverse as the states are. The priorities are set by the states so the team activities vary from state to state.

[Slide 6]

The next slide has a few more emergency management related activities.  You can see we are active in post disaster mitigation planning, recovery, flood warning, table top exercises and definitely multiple teams are active in updating emergency action plans, emergency warning systems and then recently we have had some activity with the national disaster recovery framework.  We will hear later today from Alicia Gould who is our New Jersey Silver Jackets coordinator who serves as the infrastructure systems coordinator for New Jersey.  

[Slide 7]

Even with those activities it is often difficult to show the true value of flood risk management. We all do what we think is the right thing to reduce that risk but often we produce information and trust that people are going to use that information wisely.  In an effort to document those benefits more concretely in 2011 we initiated pilot projects.

We are using existing authorities.  We are leveraging resources against all the fed, state and tribal partners but we are making a concerted effort to evaluate the outcomes and tell the story effectively both quantitatively and qualitatively.  Right now we have 33 ongoing interagency pilot projects.  

We are averaging about two dollars for every dollar that the Corps invests.  There are 24 states completing those projects and as the Corps we have invested $2.8 million dollars.  We have an ongoing call for non-structural and levee safety proposals and we have gotten really good response with those.

[Slide 8]

I have two slides about Pennsylvania and Maine and then Indiana and New Jersey are going to talk about their programs.  My first example is Pennsylvania and that is a flood inundation mapping tool.  The proposal leveraged about $105,000 against the matches you can see there and the outcome is the local community.  

This implements the shared responsibility approach in that the local officials are the end user.  They are the ones that will use the map to help make their decisions including a revised emergency action plan.

[Slide 9]

In Maine the state hazard mitigation plan cited that the greatest amount of damage from flooding occurs to the roads.  The point here is that replacing the priority culverts before the flood occurs can have significant impacts.  We invested $40,000 and that is leveraged against $80,000 from Maine and the outcomes are that community officials are the end users and we are working through the risk map program to integrate that into other points of mitigation interest section.

With that I will turn it over to Brandon Brummett.

[Slide 10]

Brandon Brummett: Thanks for having me.  The first slide is the title slide and I am the Silver Jacket Coordinator here in the Louisville District.  I am the Louisville District Head that leads Silver Jacket team role in the states of Indiana and Kentucky and those are separate teams.  We also participate in Ohio so I guess I am triple-silver jacketed here.

[Slide 11]

If you go to the next slide the Indiana Silver Jacket team was established in 2006.  You can see what the membership is made of.  You have the federal members—the alphabet soup of the Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Geological Survey, National Weather Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, FEMA, Environmental Protection Agency and Housing and Urban Development.

In the non-federal membership, all the “I’s” you see up there—IDHS, IDNR, IDEM—those are all the Indiana agencies—the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Natural Resources, Department for Environmental Management, Department of Transportation.  Indiana University, Perdue University—there is actually Indiana University, Perdue University of Indianapolis that participates.

In the Indiana chapter of ASFPM we have got River Basin Commission and even the National Guard has participated.  The point to this slide is to show the broad variety of folks we have participating on the team.  While we meet monthly and not every one of the agencies is represented every month and every meeting most of them do participate.  

The goal is to focus on trusting each other and willingly share data resources and ideas.  I think a lot of times that is easier said than done. Our previous Chief of Engineers had a saying that he liked to steal shamelessly and share willingly.  We have adopted that.  If we hear of a good idea someone else is doing we look at ways to adapt that to benefit our group.

Consequently if we are in contact with someone from another state or agency and they are interested in something we are doing we are more than willing to share any data we have.  In addition one of the key things that has really helped this team gel is we have looked at a team first strategy.  Sometimes that also means agency second and it does not mean we are not necessarily looking out for the interest of our agency, but if we realize that one agency has a program that can deal with an issue such as stream bank erosion and another agency also has an authority or program that can deal with that—whichever agency seems to have the best program to deal with that is the way we push the team.  In the old days each agency would have been trying to look out about how to get a project under the program.

If we find out the Natural Resource Conservation Service has a better authority to deal with something then we recommend that people use that.  It raises some eyebrows to promote another service’s programs but in turn they are doing the same thing.  It really helps foster a spirit of trust and really helps us figure out the best way to get things done and prioritize resources.

These days there aren’t enough resources to go around, particularly financially, so we want to figure out the way to maximize the dollars and resources available to us.

[Slide 12]

Some of the past successes I’ll focus on—one of the big ones was in May and June of 2008 in some of the floods of the Midwest.  We were tasked—each state that had flooding—the Corps of Engineers was tasked to go into those states and set up an Interagency Levee Task Force to try to pull together all the agencies that would deal with levee rehabilitation under the Rehab and Inspection Program of Public Law 84-99.

As part of that we had to look at all the impacts and analyze potential non-structural options and get all the right heads together talking about this.  That means coordination with all the other agencies and coordination with the state.  Indiana was ahead of the curve on that because we basically said we had our team together—we just need to pull a couple of different individuals from those agencies on the team to our meetings and boom—our interagency task force.

We already meet once a month through the Silver Jackets.  We were able to quickly respond to a lot of efforts.  Instead of trying to figure out who was responsible for what, we in essence already knew who was responsible for what.  We just had to concentrate our efforts on recovery.  When you hear about the team formation—forming, norming, storming, performing—we were kind of past all of that and ready to move into the performing standpoint.

We had already formed the teams.  We were familiar with what everybody needed to do.  We might have to pull an additional player or two to the table but for the most part all the agencies were already working together on a monthly basis and knew who to call on a monthly basis.  Instead of making a lot of cold calls we were able to move along with that.

In essence it enabled us to be able to speed up our recovery efforts and streamline some efforts that were ongoing.  That was a good one.  The last bullet on this slide—coloring and activity books—the next slide will best tell that story.

[Slide 13]

What you see on this slide is what I call the McDonald’s or Chuck E. Cheese approach to getting citizens to be more responsible for themselves.  McDonald’s has figured out that if you get the kids to want to go to McDonald’s because of the Happy Meals, you are going to get the adults, too.  

Chuck E. Cheese is another place that is a master of this.  I have little girls who are three and four that have never been to Chuck E. Cheese and they bug me all the time wanting me to take them to Chuck E. Cheese because they have heard how great it is.  From an adult standpoint it is not that great.  It is expensive.  The pizza is not that good.  It’s noisy but the kids love it.  They badger their parents to take them there.

So we thought if we can get kids to badger their parents about emergency issues such as having an emergency kit, turn around—don’t drown, and things like that—proper response during a tornado, having a weather radio.  We get the kids to ask the questions and maybe it will engage the parents.

Internally as a team we developed these coloring and activity books and got a grant through Housing and Urban Development to print out a bunch of these and hand them out at the Indiana State Fair.  One of the more fun Silver Jackets Team meetings we had was we decided before we put these things into the public’s hands we had better test them and be sure we were able to do it.

We had different folks trying mazes and doing the seek-and-finds and other things like that in the book.  It was kind of fun.  We got a lot of positive response on this. Other states have contacted us for a copy of this book.  You can even use them.  Make sure you give Indiana Department of Homeland Security and the Indiana Silver Jackets credit.  We are willing to share willingly.

[Slide 14]

This slide is focusing on inundation projects we have done.  Jennifer talked a little about one of the other inundation map studies.  Basically we paired up a couple of technologies between what the National Weather Service had for their forecasting technology, some HEC-RAS modeling and what USGS had with their river gauges and combined those together and came up with the idea of flood inundation maps.

We did it on a test case in Indiana.  Other places are doing this.  We have now expanded to 34 sites in Indiana where we have developed these maps.  The outputs of the maps since they are GIS data can integrate with other GIS databases like HAZUS and local PVA databases and things like that.

You can get a jumpstart on the Weather Service has forecasted this rainfall event coming through this area and it looks like the gauge could spike at this point.  What is our corresponding inundation in that area?  If that is what it looks like it is going to be let’s run that through HAZUS and the PVA database to determine that if we get this much flooding and it is this deep in this area, what type of damages are we looking at?

That can help local and state officials get a better handle in coming up with damage estimates even before the event happens or getting at least an idea of what can happen.  From a paperwork standpoint—for getting some of your grant proposals done—you can more easily calculate this stuff and get that paperwork in quicker.  

In addition to figuring out where you may have to send out emergency crews to block off roads or get people to move their vehicles or have potential evacuations—these tools are good for all of that.  It really promotes personal responsibility because there is access to these maps from the National Weather Service’s website and USGS has it and it can be integrated with various different mapping software and mapping tools.

Folks can log on to the National Weather Service forecast, click on the area and there will be a link to one of these maps if there is one of their area and they can see what is going on there.  Kind of a funny story, we had some folks calling in from Indiana in the last couple of weeks because they got very nervous about what the flood was looking; there is a sliding bar on one of the applications that allows you to put in a worst-case scenario versus what the actual forecast was and they had toggled it over on the wrong setting so they thought the flooding was going to be worse than it was.  

They knew something wasn’t right.  One of the folks called in and we were able to help them with that. We are still working some of the bugs out so we don’t overly-panic people but overall the tool works extremely well.

[Slide 15]

This slide shows some of the screen shots of that.  You can see the map.  If this was a live mapping application you can hover your map over the blue polygon indicating the flooding and get an idea of what the flood depth will be in that area based on the different shading of blue in that area.  It is a pretty cool tool to use.

[Slide 16]

This slide shows some of the other past successes we’ve had.  We did an update to the Indiana Hazard Mitigation plan having all the agencies listed on that first slide involved in that mitigation plan enabled the state to come up with a much more robust mitigation plan and look at and cover some issues they may not have covered in the past.

In my job as an outreach coordinator trying to work with some of the different communities trying to work with some communities and federal officials, particularly those elected officials such as members of Congress and their staff—I think the relationship part of this has been very key.  

Knowing a point of contact within an agency so you don’t have to make a cold call and be bounced around trying to figure out the right person to deal with on a specific issue is priceless.  I know several folks within the state government of Indiana and other federal agencies through this and I can call them.  If they are not the person I need to talk to typically they do know who the right person is and they can funnel me to that person. Within a matter of one phone call instead of three or four I can get that.  It really impresses a lot of folks when you can quickly get an answer to something.

Let’s face it—since we are all government entities our tax dollars are fueling our activities.  It is good government instead of being a local citizen and you are calling in to the Corps of Engineers for an issue that may not be theirs. They can tell you it isn’t theirs but you need to call so-and-so at another agency or directly connect them to that agency it makes it easier and the taxpayers are much happier.  I know I am when I have something like that happen.  It enables us to speak with a unified voice.

We get citizens who are agency shopping.  They will call one agency to see if they can get help with something and they don’t like the answer there so they tweak their story a bit and try a different agency and keep hoping to get a different answer.  This enables us to screen all of that out and figure out if there is an answer to this and which is the best agency to deal with that.  We definitely speak with a more unified voice.

[Slide 17]

My last slide—a couple of other things we did—in northern Indiana, the Elkhart River Project—this is actually in one of our sister districts.  We have an area that is pretty prone to flooding.  There are 303 structures in the one percent chance floodplain and 121 in the fifty percent floodplain.  It is pretty flat up there and you have some communities that wanted a single silver bullet solution to their flooding problems.

Really it doesn’t exist.  The only silver bullet solution would be to move the entire community out of the affected area so they are not in the floodplain.  When you’ve got almost half the community in the fifty percent chance floodplain that is probably not going to happen.  This is one of these where they had gone around from agency to agency continuing to ask questions.  Their elected officials had gotten involved.

What we decided to do as a team is have each agency pull together all the reports and documentation that had been done over the past ten years, review all those reports and develop one comprehensive and concise report and present it to the locals as a team effort as something we had all looked at and recommended.  We made recommendations as a team.

Some of the local folks up there didn’t like our recommendations but it did give them a unified voice and did give them a one-stop shop for answers they were trying to look for.  For some of them it opened their eyes that there isn’t a silver bullet to this solution so we need to look at other types of activities.

The last big success we have had is statewide LiDAR for the entire state.  We had a severe enough disaster in Indiana that we got a pretty significant grant ultimately from Housing and Urban Development.  The person with the State Office of Community and Rural Affairs who divides out those funds is a member of our Silver Jackets team.  

She came to the table one day and said we have a few million dollars here and we are trying to determine the best way to do this.  I would like to do something that is broad brush and would impact the entire state.  We said it would be nice if we had good topographic data for the entire state.  She asked what something like that would take.

We talked to her and she talked with a couple of contractors and got a price.  Over a three year period—I think this might be the third year—they have divided the state of Indiana into three vertical strips and have flown the entire state.  This year they are finishing flying the entire state so we have good topographic data for the entire state.

Now when we are looking at any sort of long term mitigation project where we are going to need good detailed mapping we’ve got that through the statewide LiDAR contract that was set up.  It is pretty impressive.  Now when we get ready to do anything in Indiana we are already saving some funds on mapping and surveying we have to do.

We have to send survey crews out to verify some of the data that may not show up in the LiDAR but we already have good topographic data.  I think that is critical to all our data.  This is kind of a nutshell of some activities we have done in Indiana.  We have done similar things in Kentucky and Ohio as well.  With that I will turn it over to Jason.

[Slide 18]

Jason Miller: I have a lot of ground to cover but time is short so the good news is you are going to see a lot of common themes that thread through these state teams.  They are all unique in their own ways but there are a lot of common things.  Some of those commonalities I’ll be able to brush over quickly.

New Jersey is divided in half by two core districts—Philadelphia and New York.  I am in Philadelphia and I co-coordinate the team with my counterpart in New York which for the last year or so has been Alicia Gould.  She is going to join us at the end for some questions.  I’ll plow through things and Alicia will be around at the end for some questions.

She is currently on detail to the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force but she served as Infrastructure Systems Coordinator through FEMA and DRS which we’ll cover towards the end.

[Slide 19]

This is our group of logos and lists of agencies that participate with us as both Brandon and Jennifer mentioned.  This is a state run program in terms of where our priorities come from so our primary partners are the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJEDP).  That agency houses the National Flood Insurance Program coordinator for New Jersey.

The New Jersey Office of Emergency Management (NJOEM) which is the organization which houses the State Hazard Mitigation Officer—we also deal with the Office of Homeland Security especially with the recovery efforts that have been going on.  We have many federal partners and other partners and stakeholders.  Those tend to change depending on what is going on at the time.

Consistent and primary federal partners are FEMA, USGS, the National Weather Service and NRCS.  

[Slide 20]

These are our stated goals.  Right now the state is really focused on Sandy efforts and recovery efforts but our stated goals as a team as we are able to get to them are stated here.  What you found with a lot of teams throughout the country is you get some energetic people willing to participate in these teams especially if there is a history of flooding and recent flooding.

In our case it was in the Passaic River Basin area.  Our team has been active in New Jersey for about three years now.  It came together around all the flooding that was going on in the northern portion of New Jersey which is the Passaic River Basin.  In February of 2011 Governor Chris Christie came forward with a comprehensive plan to manage flood risk.

That was a fifteen point primary recommendations that he was tasking the state—basically DEP—to start implementing and we used those fifteen points as our primary objectives to try to get all our participating agencies and stakeholders working towards the same common goal.  

Related to that but also somewhat separate is the goal of getting these flood inundation mapping sites throughout the state.  I don’t need to explain what those are now thanks to Brandon.  You got a good overview of what those types of products are. We are trying to get them implemented throughout the state.  Right now the primary focus in the Passaic River Basin area.  

Then you have outreaching coordination and I think we all realize that not only do we need to coordinate better amongst ourselves to get all the federal and state partners working together collaborating and coordinating but we also need to do a better job of outreach and coordination down to the stakeholders and general public.

[Slide 21]

Let’s talk a little now about the flood inundation mapping project we are doing.  As Jennifer mentioned we started getting some opportunities to compete for funds through the Silver Jackets program, the national program, and one of the successes we have been working on is four inundation sites in the Passaic.

The state had a list of 25 or 30 points within the Passaic that they wanted to get inundation mapping accomplished for and now they are all underway or completed.  They are being done through various funding sources and by various agencies including the USGS.  The Corps is doing four of those as a pilot project under the Silver Jackets program.

We were able to leverage quite a bit of information and data.  There was a lot of new FEMA mapping that was done up in that area so we are using recently acquired LiDAR topography and all the new hydraulic modeling that was developed up there.  We took it that next step and turned it into flood inundation mapping sites.

[Slide 22]

Each of these is a little snapshot of the four different sites so you get an idea of the project area we are talking about.  There is a table that lists how many different increments of flooding will be covered by each site.  The first is the Pequannock River at Riverdale.  

It is about two and a half miles reach length and that reach length is based on the sensitivity analysis and level of comfort when we are translating water surface elevations from the point at the gauge or forecast point upstream and downstream of that gauge.  It is based on level of comfort and how far we can take those and still believe they are going to be useful elevations.

[Slide 23]

This is another overview of the Pompton River at Pompton Plains.  That one is two mile reach length and eleven inundation layers being developed for that site.

[Slide 24]

The next is Passaic River at Little Falls.  It is about four miles in that reach and we are developing fourteen inundation layers.  These maps are going to be housed on the National Weather Service Advanced Hydrologic Prediction site.  Sometimes other projects are housed on the USGS server or local areas will have their own inundation map server but we are using the Weather Service’s site now.

[Slide 25]

The last one is the Passaic River at Clifton.  That one is about 3.9 mile long.  There are only six inundation layers being developed.  That area in particular goes from an action in flood stage very quickly up to its highest level.  It doesn’t span a wide range of elevations.

[Slide 26]

This is a simplistic animation that should start for you automatically where you can see the inundation layers building out.  I have a circle up there that shows bridges.  The idea is that you can see when the bridges get inundated as the water levels begin to rise.  Without going into much detail it is one of the functionalities of it as an emergency manager’s perspective is to know your access points and ways across the river and to see how those will be affected as the water levels rise.

You can plan accordingly.  I hope that gives you a closer, zoomed-in look, a little better detail and a little functionality of it.

[Slide 27]

We’ll transition into some Sandy stuff.  Here is a picture of the flood risk management cycle which Jennifer covered.  My purpose in showing you this is to show how the New Jersey team operates within each of these phases.  The bulk of our time is spent in the mitigation box.  

Right now we are obviously spending a lot of time in the recovery box as well but in both cases we are managing these aspects through face-to-face meetings.  We meet together as group face-to-face at least quarterly but more often if we need to.  These face-to-face meetings—having them four times a year or more is a great way to keep everybody on the same page and form those relationships that maybe weren’t there before.

In doing so we are aligning all our agencies’ priorities with the state’s stated goals in flood risk management.  It allows us to share our information and data and let each other know what types of things we are working on so we can leverage our programs in a more efficient manner.  We can reduce redundancy of effort. That is facilitated by getting together often with an energetic group of participants.  

In preparation and response we are really just using those contacts to get information quickly.  That is what is great about having those relationships established.  We can have conference calls if need be leading up to an event.  We can have conference calls immediately after an event.  We know who to go to when we need something very quickly.  As Brandon said they may not be the right person we are talking to right away but they can get us to the right person very quickly.

[Slide 28]

Specifically to Sandy—this is my way of showing where each of these pieces of the cycle fits in.  Leading up to the event one of our partners, the Middle Atlantic River Forecast Center, started sending out briefings.  They were using Silver Jackets contacts for all the states they forecast to.  They used those lists to get those forecasts moving four days in advance.

We also used our email distribution lists that had been previously established to make sure everybody had the information they needed or could at least anticipate needing so they could better do their jobs as Sandy started to approach.  Then we got out of each other’s way.  For the few days leading up to the event and the immediate few days afterwards we made sure we didn’t clog everybody up with calls and emails. We let everybody do their job.  

Sandy hit October 29 near Atlantic City, New Jersey.  A week later we had our first Silver Jackets specific call after the event to collaborate and coordinate any data collection activity so we could avoid the immediate duplication of effort if people were getting high water marks, or just any kind of surveys or information gathering that was being done.

The New Jersey Joint Field Office was established a few days later.  The next day Alicia was deployed to the JFO as the infrastructure systems recovery support function coordinator.

[Slide 29]

As we transitioned out of the immediate response into recovery we had our next face-to-face meeting at the New Jersey JFO.  It was a briefing on the National Disaster Recovery functions and coordination with some of the other recovery support functions.  Later in December both New Jersey and New York Joint Field Offices released their mission scoping assessment draft copies.

Those mission scoping assessments identify infrastructure system impacts, recovery issues and potential resources for addressing recovery.  In December President Obama created the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force.  Any meetings that we have had since have been geared towards continuing collaboration to work toward a better recovery.

All those relationships allow the team to focus on the mission of recovery.  Many of those partners that serve on the Silver Jackets team also support the infrastructure systems recovery function.

[Slide 30]

On this slide you can see a little more about the details of the recovery support function—the stated goal of that RSF and many of the partners which are a lot of the folks who participate on our Silver Jackets team.  The two expected outcomes are resilience and sustainability with mitigation being incorporated into the infrastructure design and the second would be infrastructure systems fully recovered in a timely and efficient manner to minimize the impact of the disruption.

That is my quick run-through.  I can turn it over to Amy for questions or if Alicia wants to add anything now.

Alicia Gould: I think Jason recapped it really well. I don’t know how familiar people are with the National Disaster Recovery Framework and its relation to Silver Jackets so I am really just here to take questions.

[Slide 31]

Amy Sebring: Manuela, would you like to add a couple of comments about the program in Indiana?

Manuela Johnson:  I think the really interesting thing is that all of the team members enjoy working together and it really shows because when we have disaster events—we currently have flooding ongoing in Indiana.  We tend to automatically pick up the phone or grab the keyboard and start sending each other message now and pointing out areas of concern or pointing people in the right direction.

What was originally people shopping around for assistance has really become our agencies pointing people in the right direction and making things far less frustrating for both recipients as well as those of us administering the various programs.

Amy Sebring: It definitely sounds like coordination is one of the prime benefits of the whole program. We will move to the Q&A portion.

[Audience Questions & Answers]

Amy Sebring:   I was impressed on the progress of real time flood inundation mapping.  That technology has come a long way recently and I did not realize that.  I heard about Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Indiana but do you have a sense of across the country how many teams are working on that idea of real flood time mapping?

Jennifer Dunn:  I am probably the most familiar when it is part of our pilot project when there are similar efforts going on outside of our pilot project but it is at least a dozen.  We have thirty active teams and I would expect it is more than a handful.

Jimmy Lagunero: Silver Jacket Chapter establishment, additional info to have one possibly here in Hawaii?

Jennifer Dunn: On the website there is a map.  If you click on Hawaii you’ll get to the contact information for each state.  It is not just Hawaii.  It is for each state.  For Hawaii it is Cindy Barger.  (The link is on the background page.)

Avagene Moore: Jason, what top one or two lessons did you learn from your Silver Jacket experience in the Sandy Superstorm?

Jason Miller:  That is a great question.  I don’t know if I have an answer.

Alicia Gould:  I think it is just the pre-existing relationships.  At the conference last year General Walsh said you need to make a friend before you need a friend.  They always said that the joint field office isn’t the time to be collecting business cards.  To go into the joint field office and see dozens of faces that we have worked with over the years on the Silver Jackets team—the trust was already there.

There wasn’t any hesitation about sharing data.  Having those relationships in place before disaster hits is crucial not just for phone calls and data sharing after but with the new framework in long term recovery having that trust established is kind of critical.

Peter Grandgeorge: The inundation maps have provided very valuable in several flooding events on different river systems. Do the Silver Jackets play a major role in sharing that information outside of government, such as to businesses and the general public?

Alicia Gould: In New Jersey we have a special case because we have a fully funded safe river flood warning system.  With that system comes a safe river warning user’s group.  That was our target audience for our project and our deliverables so we briefed them in the beginning and once the product is done.

Manuela Johnson:  In Indiana the project is available on AHP but some of the AHP National Weather Service funding is going away due to sequestration.  The U.S. Geological Survey is actually maintaining a parallel system of flood maps out there that can be reached through the USGS.  It is being marketed in Indiana along with flood response plan efforts in a number of communities and public education outreach which is being worked on right now.

Amy Sebring:  I was going to ask about sequester impact but as you were presenting it really struck me how that in the face of tightened budgets the way you have been able to combine these various programs is going to be even more critical in the future.

John Vocino: In general, to what extent do non-federal partners within Silver Jackets include the Cooperating Technical Partners (CTP) who work with FEMA on flood mapping?

Jennifer Dunn:  I believe in Idaho it is the case that they do function as the cooperating technical partner.  I don’t know nationwide how often that occurs.  We really look through what the agencies are but I haven’t tabulated what other functions those agencies perform.  It is really governed by the state priority.  Sometimes the state priority is a statewide effort and sometimes it is a particular geographical area.

If it is a particular geographical area it makes sense to invite the locals on an ongoing basis that is what we do, otherwise we work with the local folks as a priority shift.  The one locality may not be on the team year after year.  It may be that we are involved with that community while the effort is being made in that geographic location.

Latoya Vaughn: How do we (the locality) engage our local chapter in on-going discussions regarding potential projects?

Jennifer Dunn:  I would say to work through the state.   The team priorities are set by the state.  Often we look to the state’s mitigation plan.  That is definitely in the state’s court.  As far as who to contact you can look toward the website and about what particular things your state is interested in, some have more and less on the website about what their team activities are.  It is a good place to start.  At least it has a contact.

Isabel McCurdy: Do you see an increase in flooding due to climate change and is that reflective in your mapping?

Alicia Gould:  This is a huge topic at every level—climate change.  The Corps and NOAA are actually folding out a sea level wide tool shortly that they have jointly put together to help communities in planning.  One of the issues is they take snapshots.  The advisory flood elevation maps are based on a snapshot in time.  They do not incorporate future conditions, land use, climate change, sea level rise and so on.

The Corps is one of the few agencies that look at those indicators when they are planning their projects.  It is a best practice we are trying to find a way to incorporate into other federal processes.  I believe the inundation map we are doing is similarly is a snapshot of current conditions.

Jason Miller:  That is generally correct.  We have to rely on history as much as anything when we are trying to figure out how frequently things flood.  It ends up being that snapshot.  The good thing about inundation maps is they are based on the National Weather Service forecast so they are forecasting a stage at a forecast point which is usually a gauge so as their forecasts start to take into account any changes in climatology and other things they are reflected in the forecast and we are still able to show what level is going to be flooded by that current forecast.


Amy Sebring: Thank you very much. On behalf of Avagene, myself, and all our participants today, thank you very much to all of you for joining us today and sharing this information with us.  We wish all of you the best as you continue to face the challenges ahead.

Our next program is scheduled for May 22nd when our guest will be Director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security for Ramsey County, MN, Judson Freed. He was recently featured in an Emergency Management Magazine article titled “How Preplanning Can Ward off Bureaucratic Burden,” and he has some interesting ideas.  Please make plans to join us then.

Thanks to everyone for participating today and have a great afternoon!  We are adjourned.