Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hazards and Flood Work at the Local Level

I have some community service work this week. Late this afternoon I am meeting with a citizen group regarding planning issues.

This evening I am providing a geologic perspective on hazard planning following a presentation from a Red Cross representative at a neighborhood meeting. The neighborhood is outside any flood zones and built primarily on bedrock. A relatively safe place to live, but that doesn't mean all will be dandy when the surrounding areas have severe damage. I'll be touching on floods, landslides, volcanoes, faults in the vicinity and the big fault on the coast.
On Thursday I have a Whatcom County Flood Advisory Committee meeting. The primary issue we have is to provide advice on revisions to the County Flood Code. These revisions are mandated by FEMA to reduce flood damage risk and to meet a biological opinion regarding the protection of endangered salmon stocks. The update must be done in order for flood risk properties to be eligible for FEMA flood insurance. Failure to do so means much higher flood insurance rates or no insurance at all.

We also will discuss levee vegetation. The Army Corp of Engineers has established new standards for having levees qualify as Corp Program levees. If a levee is in the program and meets the Corps standards, the corp will repair the levee with only a relatively modest financial contribution from local sponsors. The problem is getting levees in the program and meeting the vegetation standards and levee maintenance requirements is a bit daunting and expensive. Some of the committee members want to greatly expand the number of levees in the program, but local dike and flood districts do not have nearly enough money and they are turning to the County government to fund the upgrades and maintenance.

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