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Association of State Flood Plain Managers

Association of State Flood Plain Managers Association of State Flood Plain Managers
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Puerto Rico Office of Geology and Hydrogeology earns ASFPM's 2019 Outreach Award
Thursday, June 27, 2019

L-R: ASFPM Past Chair Maria Cox Lamm; Wilfredo Mas with the Puerto Rico Office of Geology and Hydrogeology; and ASFPM Executive Director Chad Berginnis.

Our Outreach/Media Award honors either the media, an individual, private organization or governmental agency that increased information and/or awareness of flood issues with the public. It acknowledges efforts that go above and beyond what many others might do. And that describes perfectly what the Puerto Rico Office of Geology and Hydrogeology did after Hurricanes Irma and Maria slammed into the island in September 2017.

Following the hurricanes, FEMA provided the Puerto Rico Planning Board, the territory's floodplain administrator, with Advisory Base Flood Elevation Maps that provide updated flood hazard information to guide rebuilding.

After receiving these maps, the Office of Geology and Hydrogeology deployed an aggressive education and outreach campaign that first focused on 22 state agencies. The department gave two training sessions to the building permitting office and each of their building permit regional branches. To inform the rebuilding process, they traveled to every one of the 78 communities in Puerto Rico in the span of just a couple months to disseminate this risk information. They invited everyone to the table and tailored each presentation to the specific audience being addressed, reaching more than 1,000 people.

The planning board ensured the governor's buy-in on adopting the ABFEs into Puerto Rico's regulations, as well as incorporation of the 2018 International Codes and with an important design wind speed amendment into the 2018 Puerto Rico Building Code.

This outreach campaign will surely have a long-lasting, educational benefit for Puerto Rico as its communities prepare for, mitigate and respond to disasters.






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