The City of Arlington’s Flood Safety Awareness Campaign is an annual week long outreach campaign corresponding with National Flood Safety Awareness Week. It is geared toward raising awareness about flood safety and preparedness. This year, the week of March 18-22, 2013 is devoted to revealing how residents’ simple actions can help protect lives and property during a flood.
In 2010, remnants of Tropical Storm Hermine caused widespread flooding in Arlington, submerging many low-lying pockets under several feet of water. Firefighters had to use ladders and boats to reach stranded residents and over twenty roadways, including several arterial streets, were flooded and closed due to hazardous conditions. The flooding caused intermittent power outages, temporary road closures, evacuations, contaminated water supplies in some areas, and hazardous post flood conditions. Approximately 250 homes were flooded or left uninhabitable throughout the city. Residents were confused about why their homes flooded and why the city was unable to prevent the flooding. Many did not have insurance or were unaware that their homeowner’s and renter’s policies did not cover flood damage.
Each year, the city aims to create an all-inclusive flood safety outreach campaign, targeting youth, adults, and seniors because flooding affects everyone, regardless of age. Given the size of the target audiences, it is important that our city utilize different methods to reach different age groups. Thus the Flood Safety Awareness Campaign in 2013 is designed not only to use traditional outreach methods to reach local residents but more modern and creative methods as well during Flood Safety Awareness Week.
Traditional outlets include newspaper advertisements, utility bill inserts, and local partnerships. Specifically, newspaper advertisements promoting flood safety will run throughout the week and over 93, 000 households will receive information about flood preparedness in their water bills for the month of March. The city is partnering with Arlington Independent School District high school science teachers to gear lessons toward flood and water related topics during the week, with activities culminating in a flood preparedness competition. Five simple and short lessons created by the city, focusing on hydrology, soils, floodplains, forces in flowing water and preparedness were distributed to teachers to use in their classrooms during Flood Safety Awareness Week.
The city will use social media (Facebook, Twitter, RSS Feeds, & blogs) to reach residents through more technological conduits rather than the more traditional methods of outreach. For example, throughout Flood Safety Awareness Week, daily flood tips will appear on the city’s Facebook and Twitter feeds, with links to more information on flood safety and awareness. The city is also highlighting flood safety and preparedness on its RSS (Rich Site Summary) Feed – its constantly updated news blog. Articles covering different flood related topics will appear throughout the week.
Most significantly, with the help of a group of commissioned graphic artists, 133 ART Inc., the City of Arlington created, The Rescue League Academy: Sink or Swim, a flood safety novella (comic book or graphic novel). This is an effort to create something that would appeal to a younger audience (middle school through generation Xers) that may ignore traditional outreach materials, and was inspired by the Preparedness 101: Zombie Pandemic graphic novel created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The city’s 40-page flood safety graphic novel reveals how the simple actions of residents, regardless of age, can help protect lives and property during a flood. Readers follow Bianca, Shawn, Sonny, Sam, and their families as they experience a major Texas flash flood. Bianca, the aspiring superhero undergoing her final test, helps a group of citizens during a flood. As she helps them make smart decisions and saves them from dangerous situations created by their ill-informed actions, citizens learn about what they should do before, during, and after a flood.
CAPTION: With the help of a group of commissioned graphic artists, the City of Arlington created "The Rescue League Academy: Sink or Swim", a flood safety comic book designed to share flood safety with a younger audience that may ignore traditional outreach materials.
Included in the graphic novel is a Flood Safety Checklist so that readers can get their family, home, workplace, or school ready before disaster strikes. The project is available online at www.arlingtontx.gov/stormwater and in print form to increase accessibility. Print copies are available for free at several City of Arlington locations and will be distributed to individuals, schools, and businesses throughout the year as well as at local events. In all, the graphic novel is a unique, creative, and effective public education tool to communicate the importance of flood safety and preparedness to all, including the historically underserved younger audience.
Simply, our goal in the City of Arlington is to create an informed citizenry with the tools to take action in the face of potential hazards. We want people, if or when confronted with flood waters, to know what to do and how to prepare.