Southwestern Division collaboration ensures no community is left behind

Published Aug. 5, 2014
This is a SimSuite tool developed by the Institute for Water Resources showing high risk levee populations in Tulsa, Okla. The mapping tool helps local communities facilitate the development of flood reduction measures.

This is a SimSuite tool developed by the Institute for Water Resources showing high risk levee populations in Tulsa, Okla. The mapping tool helps local communities facilitate the development of flood reduction measures.

by Lanora Wright
Southwestern Division Flood Plain Management Services program manager

DALLAS - No community left behind seeks to close the gaps in communication by uniting all national organizations, private sector associations and government at all levels to develop a shared vision for flood risk management. Collaboration and leveraging are essential to integrating the goals, resources and capabilities of local, State and federal agencies to reduce flood risks using a “bottom-up” outreach approach that aims to leave no community behind.

 The Silver Jackets, floodplain management services, and planning assistance to states programs meet critical objectives of the USACE Campaign Plan and the Southwestern Division Implementation Plan. The Corps’ commitment to collaboration pays off through interagency partnerships and consistent participation in regional, state and local groups focused on reducing flood risks. Collaboration creates visibility, opens avenues that inform the public, and creates mutual, synergistic partnerships. Leveraging produces cost savings by eliminating duplication of efforts, thereby increasing the number of objectives that can be accomplished through each project. The partnership between USACE and FEMA established through the Silver Jackets program leverages the information and resources of each agency by providing access to such national programs such as FEMA's Risk Mapping, Assessment, and Planning program and USACE's Levee Inventory and Assessment Initiative SWD’s regional flood risk management project development team includes Silver Jacket leads from Texas, Okla. and Ark. Each team evolves based on the needs of the participating local communities within the state.

 The Texas Silver Jackets Charter, signed in 2010, includes the Texas Department of Public Safety, Division of Emergency Management, the Texas Water Development Board, FEMA Region 6 and the Fort Worth, Galveston and Tulsa District of USACE SWD and the Albuquerque District in South Pacific Division. The Texas Silver Jackets team submitted a 2014 interagency flood risk management proposal to develop a comprehensive web-based mapping system of all flood risk identification efforts and mitigation activity in Texas. The mapping system, named Texas Flood Resiliency Activity Tracker, will facilitate coordination of the 50 on-going federal and state flood risk management projects. Completion of the database will promote informed decision making, reduce duplication of efforts and funding among agencies, define high-risk flood areas, and unite and prioritize objectives across the State.

 The Arkansas Silver Jacket Charter, signed in 2012, includes FEMA Region 6, the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission and the Little Rock, Memphis and Vicksburg Districts of the Corps. This Silver Jackets Team received

2013 funding for a nonstructural assessment for Shannon Hills, Ark. to develop a comprehensive nonstructural assessment of repetitively damaged structures along the Otter Creek and the Shannon Hills Tributary. This assessment identifies and prioritizes mitigation options, and provides flood risk reduction guidance to individual homeowners. The final results of this effort will be incorporated into a community education and outreach effort, and provide a template for utilizing nonstructural mitigation in other communities throughout Arkansas.

 The Oklahoma Silver Jackets team, led by the Tulsa District, was formed in 2012. The 2014 nonstructural flood risk management proposal submitted will develop a flood evacuation plan for high risk levees along the Arkansas River which reduce flood risks for about 9,000 residents. Upon completion the project will minimize loss of life risks through public involvement and education; help reduce property losses through early warning systems; and produce flood evacuation maps and plans to increase resiliency. Many project activities are associated with application of nonstructural communication measures to reduce the risk of flooding along the Arkansas River and tributaries downstream of Lake Keystone Dam in Tulsa County, Oklahoma area.

 A critical component of the Resilient Neighbors Network and FEMA model is to assist with the development of collaborative information sharing and mentoring programs to increase effective risk reduction actions. Essential to this collaboration is the creation of a functional network by which “bottom-up” innovation meets “top down” support while connecting communities to facilitate learning from each other. Without collaboration, critical opportunities to identify and implement flood reduction measures are lost. Without leveraging, efforts to abate human suffering, economic damage and environmental degradation are diminished. A collaborative and leveraging effort magnifies visibility, educates the public, and produces a multiplier effect in the realization of national benefits by reducing flood risks. This synergistic effect of sharing information, sharing data collection and analysis tools, and leveraging financial resources produces win-win results, fostering the mind-set of “no community left behind. 

Release no. 14-015