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Posted 10/31/2017

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By Katie Buckler, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers


The importance of sensible floodplain management cannot be overstated, especially given the extreme damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, flash floods in 2009, and the recent slew of hurricanes that have battered the southeast United States and outlying islands.  

Given the dynamic nature of streams and rivers, and with the nebulous challenges posed by climate change, floodplain boundaries are also ever-changing. So community leaders must have the best tools and most up-to-date information on-hand to quickly adapt to changing conditions.

People who live or work near floodplains need to be aware of the flood hazard and the actions they can take to reduce property damage, and prevent the loss of life caused by flooding. The Floodplain Management Services (FPMS) Program was developed by the Army Corps of Engineers specifically to address this need. The intent of the program is to foster public understanding of the options for dealing with flood hazards, and to promote prudent use and management of the Nation’s floodplains.

Under the FPMS program, the Buffalo District, in coordination with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) recently completed a Special Flood Hazard Evaluation for Silver Creek, located in Chautauqua County, New York.

Buffalo District Hydrology and Hydraulics (H&H) Team and Survey Team, guided by Certified Floodplain Manager Laura Ortiz within the Planning Team, were deployed to complete the detailed analysis. The 1-2 year process involved detailed surveying, LiDAR mapping, and hydraulic analysis. These tools were used to create flood profiles and flooded area maps for Silver Creek, and a comparison was made to existing flood maps.

The results of this investigation will determine the most accurate floodplain for Silver Creek and Walnut Creek within the Village of Silver Creek, and will be used to determine whether the Federal Emergency Management Agency floodplain mapping revisions will be made for the stream systems.

While the report does not provide solutions to flood problems, it does provide a scientific basis for the adoption of land use controls to guide floodplain development, thereby preventing intensification of future flood losses.

“We hope that these communities can use these FPMS Special Studies and the floodplain mapping as a guidance to assist with impacts of floods and other land use plans,” says Richard Whipple, Army Corps of Engineers, Plan Formulator.

Buffalo District is poised to complete three more such studies. One located along French Creek in Lorain County, Ohio, is near completion. Two other projects in New York State are also being studied.

From routine locks and dams maintenance, to levee inspections, the FPMS Program is one of many tools used by USACE to reduce disaster risk every day.

climate change FEMA Floodplain NYSDEC risk reduction