Lakeside Interceptor | Duluth, MN

Minimize potential flood damage in your community

Brian Miller, PE | with 0 Comments

Minimize potential flood damage in your community

In just hours, torrential rains and devastating floods can damage infrastructure and disrupt communities. Recovery, on the other hand, can take years of costly repair, a fact well known by many Minnesota residents who have survived severe flooding in recent years.

Are you ready to minimize potential damage in your community? You can’t prepare for every emergency, but there are steps you can take to mitigate flooding and then to efficiently deal with the disaster in the short- and long-term.
Flooding in June 2012 eroded the banks of Merritt Creek in west Duluth. Our team coordinated efforts with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' staff to minimize permitting comments in this sensitive trout stream. To promote a more natural restoration, the project conserved adjacent trees, repurposed flood debris as rip rap and used compost from the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District to encourage plant growth and stabilize the site.
This three-pronged plan explains how to address potential flooding issues before, during, and after a significant rainfall.

Prepare for Emergency
One of the first proactive steps a community can take is to join the National Flood Insurance Program. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said this program provides affordable insurance to property owners and encourages communities to adopt and enforce floodplain management regulations. According to FEMA, “these efforts help mitigate the effects of flooding on new and improved structures.”
For information, contact the National Flood Insurance Program support hotline at (800) 621-3362.
Other proactive measures are to create accurate floodplain maps and ordinances to preserve floodplains and minimize opportunities for property damage. Don’t allow residents or businesses to build in the floodplain or expand properties already located in the floodplain. In addition, cities located in flood-prone areas should have an emergency plan that outlines what to do to protect people and property.
During Emergency
After the flood waters subside, local officials face the challenge of rebuilding infrastructure and navigating through complex governmental regulations. There are strict rules about what the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will reimburse. In order to maximize the likelihood that your reimbursement requests will be honored, be sure to document expenses and labor time above and beyond normal expenses, and take photos of the damage.
If your community does experience flooding, obtain a written commitment from FEMA prior to embarking on a post-emergency repair project. Generally, FEMA rules don’t allow communities to improve infrastructure above pre-existing conditions. Local officials need to understand which improvement costs will be covered and to what level the community will be expected to contribute, if a project exceeds pre-existing conditions.
Many grant and funding programs are available to assist with disaster recovery. Understanding the nuances of program requirements and applications is even more critical when you’re dealing with the unexpected and critical infrastructure expenses.
There’s no silver bullet to prevent heavy rains, but communities can plan ahead to reduce flood damage or at least have a plan in place to deal with a natural disaster, if it does occur.
For assistance about flood management, contact Brian Miller

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