The Fort Bend Independent reported on the recently held Flood Risk Reduction Symposium held in Fort Bend County on June 4, 2010.
The evolving Federal regulatory environment associated with flood risks, as well as emergency management challenges created by Hurricane Ike, played a major role in the recent creation of the Fort Bend Flood Management Association (FBFMA). FBFMA members represent most Fort Bend County government agencies with flood management responsibilities. The main focus of the group is protecting Fort Bend residents from flood risks as well as providing effective emergency management resources when necessary.
FBFMA sponsored its first annual “Flood Risk Reduction Symposium” on June 4 in Sugar Land, with over 100 local officials and consultants in the audience. Among the featured speakers were Peter Rabbon, Director, National Flood Risk Management Program of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), George Grugett, Executive Vice President of the Mississippi Valley Flood Control Association (MVFCA), and Susan Gilson, Executive Director of the National Association of Flood and Stormwater Management Agencies (NAFSMA).
Elected officials also presented, including keynote speaker U.S. Rep. Pete Olson, State Sen. Glenn Hegar, State Rep. Charlie Howard, and Fort Bend County Judge Bob Hebert. They discussed issues such as pending regulations, the National Flood Insurance Program, and the need for coordinated activity by Fort Bend flood management entities to address future crises associated with hurricanes or other emergencies.
Olson cautioned the audience about the potential impact to Fort Bend County residents of President Obama’s draft Executive Order 11988, which affects implementation of the National Flood Insurance Program.
Hebert addressed the influence of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), initially created years ago as a minor agency, now playing a far greater role in the operation of other Federal agencies such as the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Levee Improvement District (LID) boards in Fort Bend County must ensure that they are proactively meeting and addressing the standards required by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA to avoid any non-compliance consequences that could cost residents millions of dollars in mandatory flood insurance premiums, he said.
Hebert said, “Levee Districts can no longer afford to be passive agencies. We must understand the issues, debate our options, establish consensus opinions, and, most importantly, let our elected officials hear those opinions as they debate future flood plain or flood insurance legislation.”
André McDonald, President of FBFMA, said, “The FBFMA membership consists of most of the local Fort Bend governmental agencies with the combined responsibility of protecting over 130,000 people and $10 billion of assessed property value from flooding.
FBFMA recognized that there was a need to create a higher level of awareness about what is happening at the Federal level in regulations on flood management.
The purpose of this program was to provide critical information and education to officials, consultants, and public sector policy makers who are tasked with flood management responsibilities.
McDonald said FBFMA will continue to monitor all activity at both the Federal and state level related to floodplain and flood risk issues and will also sponsor future events.