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Association of State Flood Plain Managers

Association of State Flood Plain Managers Association of State Flood Plain Managers
Association of State Flood Plain Managers
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Chehalis River Basin Flood Authority named ASFPM's 2019 James Lee Witt Local Award Winner
Wednesday, June 26, 2019

L-R: French Wetmore, consultant to the Flood Authority; Lara Fowler, former consultant to the Flood Authority; Mark Sigler, Building Official with Grays Harbor County; Orlando Howell, Building Official and Floodplain Administrator, City of Hoquiam; and David Curtis, consultant to the Flood Authority.

The James Lee Witt Local Award for Excellence in Floodplain Management recognizes outstanding programs or activities at the front lines of floodplain management--local programs where "the rubber meets the road."

The Chehalis River in Washington is a notorious flooder, but it was in the wake of a devastating 2007 flood that the Chehalis River Basin Flood Authority was formed. We all know that it's very hard…not impossible, but very hard to tackle something on your own. But there is strength in numbers. The "authority" is made up of three counties--Lewis, Grays Harbor and Thurston--as well as 10 cities and towns, and also works closely with the Chehalis and Quinault Tribes.

Over the past decade, it has led an aggressive program to mitigate flood risk, reduce flood damage, and increase flood threat awareness in order to transform floodplain management in the basin from a reactive to a proactive culture. Program highlights include unique loss reduction projects such as: retrofitting homes with effective flood vents; constructing "Farm Pads" at numerous rural locations to save livestock, farm equipment and feed.

While the flood authority has had numerous effective basin initiatives, of note is the adoption of improved regulatory standards and implementation of an innovative flood warning system. Because of these initiatives, communities and residents in the Chehalis River Basin are now substantially more aware and better prepared for flooding than ever before.

Edna Fund, a flood authority board member, was recently quoted in the local newspaper, saying, "We're the ground-level people. This is the only place where we have all these cities that are at the table. It's really nice that we all go together to the Legislature to get things done and that the tribes are with us too. … We've done a heck of a lot." And ASFPM couldn’t agree more.







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