2022 ASFPM Scholarship Recipients

Meet our ASFPM Scholarship Recipients and what they gained from attending the 2022 ASFPM Conference in Orlando, FL.

Jessica Vanderwerff Wilson, CFM, City of Edina

Thanks to a scholarship from MnAFPM I was able to attend the 2022 ASFPM national conference in Orlando, FL. It was a great opportunity to connect with and learn from people across the nation who are at the top of their game and span the spectrum of floodplain policy, planning, mitigation, modeling, risk communication, and engagement. It was also fun to watch our own Suzanne Jiwani receive an award for her career contributions to the profession. I learned so much and am grateful for the opportunity to attend. Here are just a few of the main takeaways that I brought back to my work in Minnesota;

  • Blue Skies, Organize: Preparing for Substantial Damage Before Disaster Season workshop. Communities, not FEMA or DNR, are responsible for making substantial damage determinations. This workshop covered the basics of creating a substantial damage administrative procedure. Fundamental elements include establishing regulations, determining impact areas, identifying personnel and resources, SI/SD determination process and methodology, communicating and enforcing SI/SD requirements, monitoring compliance, and maintaining records.

  • No Adverse Impact (NAI) is the “Good Neighbor Policy”. It’s legally acceptable, understandable, palatable to the community as a whole, and non-adversarial (not pro-development or anti-development). Communities can limit their liability by adopting policies that are centered on human safety. A No Adverse Impact legal guide is expected to be available in early 2023. Other NAI resources include the NAI Toolkit and NAI How-To Guides.

  • Next Gen technology and communications. There were many examples of communities using AGOL Dashboards, Field Maps, and StoryMaps for public communications and data collection. One of the most exciting presentations was using Augmented Reality (AR) for visualizing inundation pre and post mitigation. The application requires data which may be generated as part of local H&H modeling already. These seems like such powerful tools for engaging people on flood mitigation projects and it’s only the beginning.

  • CRS program reframing as succession planning for staff and organizations. The bottom-line benefits of the CRS program are clear – discounts for policy holders and a roadmap for communities to go above the minimum NFIP standards. I heard a speaker reframe the CRS program as a way to provide stability for a community’s floodplain management program when staff, executive leadership, or elected officials rotate or term out. It also can help establish a culture of best practices and help keep floodplain standards in view, especially post-disaster. We don’t have many policyholders in the community I work for; however, this stability and culture reframe has put the CRS program back on my radar.

Thank you, again to MnAFPM for the support!

Riley Mondloch, PE - SEH, Inc.

Thank you again for the funding to attend.

On the first day I attended the regional discussion session, mapping and engineering policy discussion and the stormwater management, no adverse impact, and natural and beneficial functions policy discussion. The mapping and engineering policy discussion had several FEMA members primarily answering questions about the transition from 1D to 2D modeling. They seem to be aware of the concerns around 2D modeling, but kept making the point that it will take a long time to get all of that fully incorporated into the existing systems. They’re open to people joining the policy group meetings on 2D mapping, so that’s something I’ll be doing more in the future. The corps is developing a 2D floodway tool, but there isn’t a lot of public info on it. FEMA will stop producing binary products (FIRM Maps) at some point in the future, and they’ll decide when that will be in 2024.

There were a number of other future developments mentioned at various points that are worth keeping an eye on. Atlas 14 depths are acknowledged as being out of date by 10-50 year, and congress has recognized the need for federal funding in the infrastructure act, so modernized NOAA precipitation studies are expected in the future. These will also incorporate a future conditions element. FEMA is developing a nature based solutions resource.

I attended the all chapter meeting. MnAFPM was recognized as a bronze sponsor (>$500 in donations), for which a certificate was given. One big change is that the chapters are being redistricted. Minnesota will be grouped together with Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. This is still being finalized and an email will be sent out when it is official. The chapter meeting also had speakers from the recently adopted committee on social justice. I have the contact info of the leaders and will provide that to anyone who may be interested in joining. It sounds like ASFPM has a number of other subcommittees, I’ll look into those more and see if there are any MnAFPM may want to get more involved in. Aside from those meetings, I primarily attended technical talks related to modeling and mapping. Looking forward to hearing from the other attendees at the next conference and board meetings.