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Risk MAP Success Story: The Herbert Hoover Dike Presented a Unique Challenge; FEMA Responded With a Unique Solution

This page describes the successes that came about from implementing the Risk MAP process in South Florida. It is intended for state and community officials, mitigation and urban planners and other individuals interested in how the Risk MAP program and project cycle can benefit their community in identifying and mitigating flood hazards.

The Herbert Hoover Dike, which surrounds Lake Okeechobee in South Florida, could not be accredited to protect against the 1 percent annual chance flood event by the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). Portions of five counties surrounding the lake—Glades, Hendry, Martin, Okeechobee, and Palm Beach—would be mapped into a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) as a result.

Approach

Before completing the Flood Insurance Study updates for the counties around Lake Okeechobee, FEMA Project Manager Mark Vieira proactively reached out to both the USACE and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) to obtain their latest modeling. At that time it was discovered that the USACE was updating their two dimensional model for the Herbert Hoover Dike. FEMA put all five countywide studies on hold so that the new modeling results could be used in a comprehensive statistical analysis to determine the 1 percent annual chance flood event.

Impact

The initial benefit of coordination with the USACE and SFWMD was multiple government agencies using the same model and information. But the real impact of this effort was through public outreach—how would FEMA help the counties and communities around Lake Okeechobee explain the SFHA changes to their citizens?

FEMA Region IV’s project team developed a comprehensive approach to implement. This unique solution included:
  • Meeting with the USACE and SFWMD before mapping began to explain the results of FEMA’s statistical analysis of the 1 percent annual chance storm event on Lake Okeechobee and the Herbert Hoover Dike
  • Meeting with each county and local municipality to explain the modeling and mapping results before maps were issued preliminary
  • Leading three outreach coordination calls with the project team, Florida State National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Office, counties, and local communities to help prepare for the Preliminary DFIRM Community Coordination (PDCC) meetings and public open houses
  • Working with FEMA's External Affairs to host a stakeholder calls with government and agency representatives for the five counties
  • Holding PDCC meetings and public open houses in Glades, Hendry, Martin, and Okeechobee Counties in September 2013 with more than 450 citizens attending

Risk MAP Project Phases

This success story is relevant to the Risk MAP project phase listed below:

  • Community Engagement, Outreach, and Education
Last Updated: 
07/24/2019 - 15:13