Flood Management: What Happens When Residents & Staff Work Together

Written by Cari Tate

More than 120 municipalities use SeeClickFix for resident and staff reporting of non-emergency, flood-related concerns.

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Flooding can happen anywhere. Changing tides, natural disasters, spring rain, melting snow, and aging infrastructure are just some of the causes. One thing is certain, flooding is on the rise.

More than 120 municipalities and counties including Jersey City, New Jersey and Memphis, Tennessee, use SeeClickFix for resident and staff reporting of non-emergency, flood-related concerns.

Flooding_NJ

 

Non-emergency flooding reported in Jersey City, New Jersey.

The City of Jersey City, New Jersey is surrounded by water, making the risk of flooding pretty high. Since June 2016, Jersey City has received 949 non-emergency reports of Water/ Sewer/ Flooding Issues ranging from broken hydrants and clogged storm drains to flooded sidewalks.

Overflow_TN

Clogged drain caused overflow and puddling in Memphis, TN.


Similarly, the City of Memphis, Tennessee has received 716 reports of Drain Flooding since November 2015. On average, City of Memphis officials acknowledged these requests within .5 days and closed them within 5.7 days.SeeClickFIx_Flood_Management

With a clear delineation between non-emergency water or flood-related incidents and emergency situations, 311 staff and other officials can address the every day situations and free up emergency staff for the true emergencies. Data showing where non-emergency issues occur and staff performance can help when cross-referencing assets and neighborhoods that are currently or could be affected in the future.

Planning for a Flood is a Necessity

According to Ed Clark, Director of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s (NOAA) National Water Center in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, “This is shaping up to be a potentially unprecedented flood season, with more than 200 million people at risk for flooding in their communities.”

Blog _ SCF _ Flood Management Services-1

 
 

This map depicts the locations where there is a greater than 50-percent chance of major, moderate or minor flooding during March through May, 2019. (NOAA)

Whether or not what’s possible becomes reality, flood management is a real concern for state and local government officials. Whether caused by ordinary or extraordinary events, defining and communicating a plan is a necessity. Although many municipalities have a plan in place for emergency situations, here are a few things to consider for non-emergencies:

  • How are non-emergency water-related concerns like clogged drains and leaky hydrants handled in your community?

  • Are you residents and staff aware of and involved in the plan for flood management in both emergency and non-emergency situations?

  • Is your department or organization tracking water-related non-emergencies in a way that allows you to detect the potential threat of an emergency situation in the future?

Why a Plan for Non-Emergencies Matters

From flooding caused by a broken groundwater ‘sub’ in a school in Dolores, Colorado where the entire floor must be replaced, to a back-up in the stormwater drainage system in Dallas, Texas causing damage to cars and subsequent insurance claims, to a water main break in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania causing streets to flood and sidewalks to crumble.

These things happen every day. Although these things seem small, the effects are powerful. In the age of aging infrastructure, here are a few things to consider when it comes to water-related non-emergencies:

  • Cost of prevention, maintenance and repairs
  • Awareness and safety of your people, neighborhoods, and community as a whole
  • Are there signs of damage?
  • Has this issue already been identified or reported previously? How many times?
  • Does your team have a way to document damage now?
  • Do residents and staff have data to reference to prepare and potentially prevent issues like this in the future?