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