PHILADELPHIA – West Virginia knows flooding. In the past 10 years, West Virginia has had 15 federal disaster declarations for flooding and other related hazards, including the historic flood event in June 2016. Flooding has and will continue to impact the lives of West Virginians; however, action is being taken to reduce that risk and protect lives and property across the state. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, in partnership with the West Virginia Floodplain Management Association (WV FPM), attended and spoke at the WV FPM Association Annual Conference to discuss how far West Virginia has come in flood risk reduction and the future of floodplain management in the state.
The WV FPM Association Conference provides an opportunity for FEMA, the State of West Virginia, and local floodplain managers and stakeholders to get together and talk about the future of flooding and flood risk. FEMA continues to work with West Virginia on flood risk reduction efforts, including communicating risk to communities across the state and sharing up-to-date information on the availability of flood insurance. The WV FPM Association conference allows FEMA, the State, and other external stakeholders and floodplain managers to get together and share ideas about how to communicate risk together and work side by side to create actionable ways to protect West Virginians from future flood events.
In encouraging communities to prepare for emergencies, FEMA established a call to action for 5 activities that property owners and businesses can do to help reduce their risk:
- Know Your Risk – look up your home or business on the West Virginia Flood Tool.
- Make a plan for an emergency that includes not only where you will go, what you need to bring with you (pets, medicine, etc.) but how you will pay for damages or lost wages.
- Buy flood insurance to protect your largest investment (your home or business).
- Take action now to make your home or business safer and stronger. Learn more with the ‘Protect Your Home from Flooding Guide.’
- Get to know your local floodplain manager - they are your guide to being prepared and recovering.
West Virginia has continued to make improvements in floodplain management. As one of the first states to have a flood tool, the WV Flood Tool allows real estate agents, floodplain administrators, property owners and insurance agents, among others, to view their flood risk on a map so they can make informed decisions about protecting their property. Individuals can look up their property via the tool and see where the flood risk exists. “West Virginia has made great strides in understanding and reducing their flood risk in the past 10 years,” stated Nicole Lick, Deputy Mitigation Division Director for FEMA Region III and Keynote Speaker at the WV FPM Association conference. “West Virginia has updated most floodplain ordinances across the state, trained thousands of insurance agents on insurance, and was one of the first states across the Nation to create and update their Hazard Mitigation Plan. West Virginia is committed to reducing their flood risk.”
In addition, West Virginia:
- Established a Silver Jackets Team, in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to study and reduce flood risk across the State;
- 1 of only 14 states with full digital maps, including map update investments of over $7 million;
- 13 communities participating in the Community Rating System, which rewards proactive risk reduction efforts through a decrease in insurance premiums; and
- Over $17.9 million in total mapping program investment.
For more information on the West Virginia Flood Tool, please visit https://www.mapwv.gov/flood/. For more information on the WV FPM, please visit http://wvfma.org/. For more information on flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), please visit www.floodsmart.gov.
FEMA’s mission is helping people before, during, and after disasters. FEMA Region III’s jurisdiction includes Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. Learn more about FEMA Region III at www.FEMA.gov/region-iii. Stay informed of FEMA’s activities online: videos and podcasts are available at fema.gov/medialibrary and youtube.com/fema. Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/femaregion3.