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Chapter 8: Professional Development

Flooded house

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As evidenced by a review of the materials in this study guide, acquiring a thorough knowledge and understanding of all of the elements involved in implementing a successful floodplain management program could be a daunting experience for the community official. Floodplain management obviously involves some complicated and technical issues, covering many disciplines.

One of the best ways, and perhaps the only way, to become a successful and confident floodplain administrator is by acquiring the necessary training and expertise needed to make informed and difficult decisions in a way that maintains the integrity of the communities floodplain management program. The state legislature acknowledged the importance of adequate training by passing legislation that requires designated floodplain administrators to be accredited by the OWRB.

Luckily, there are many opportunities for Oklahoma floodplain administrators (as well as other local officials and interested citizens) to gain an in-depth and up-to-date knowledge of their program requirements and to obtain the necessary education for continuing accreditation. However, professional development does not have to stop with training. A good way to become a well-rounded floodplain administrator and manager is to become an active member in one or more of the professional associations catering to education, consensus building and information exchange among colleagues and peers.

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Organizational Development

The Association of State Floodplain Managers was founded in 1997 by professionals in state government. It has evolved into a national organization of professionals concerned with floodplain management, flood hazard mitigation, the National Flood Insurance Program, and flood preparedness, warning and recovery. With more than 6,500 members the group has become a respected voice in floodplain management practice and policy in the United States. It represents the flood hazard specialists of local, state and federal government, the research community, the insurance industry, and the fields of engineering, hydrologic forecasting, emergency response, water resources, and others.

The Association of State Floodplain Administrators supports comprehensive nonstructural and structural management of the nation's floodplains and related water resources. The ASFPM believes that, through coordinated, well-informed efforts, the public and private sectors can:

  • Reduce loss of human life and property damage resulting from flooding
  • Preserve the natural and cultural values of floodplains.
  • Promote flood mitigation for the prevention of loss and the use of flood plains.
  • Avoid actions that exacerbate flooding.

To help reach these goals, the ASFPM fosters communication among those responsible for flood hazard activities, provides technical advice to governments and other entities about proposed actions or policies that will affect flood hazards, and encourages flood hazard research, education and training.

The Association's conferences, newsletters, training, publications, and the nationally based efforts of their committees and officers enhance work toward mitigating flood losses in the nation and furthering the profession of floodplain management. Among its many other benefits, the Association of State Floodplain Managers has established a national program for professional certification of floodplain managers. The program recognizes continuing education and professional development that enhance the knowledge and performance of local, state, federal, and private-sector floodplain managers.

The OFMA, organized in 1990, is Oklahoma's state floodplain managers association and is a Chapter member of ASFPM. The OFMA brings together people with a common interest in floodplain management. Membership includes floodplain administrators, concerned citizens, public employees and elected officials, engineers, surveyors, planners, contractors, lenders, insurance agents, real estate professionals, students, corporate partners and local, state and federal agencies.

The Association's objectives include promoting interest in flood damage abatement, improving cooperation among government agencies, and encouraging innovative approaches to managing Oklahoma's floodplains. In addition, the organization provides a unified membership capable of presenting one strong voice to communicate with the state legislature on flood-related issues. Other benefits of OFMA membership include monthly newsletters (“The B.F.E."), spring conferences and an annual fall conference, an annual legislative reception at the state capitol, and other training and educational publications and opportunities.

In September 1997, the Oklahoma Floodplain Management Association (OFMA) adopted a program for the certification of floodplain managers and others interested in floodplain management activities. The program is designed to certify competency with the basic principals of sound floodplain management as mandated by the National Flood Insurance Program. Professional development through this program allows floodplain management officials to gain greater credibility and integrity in their fields. The OFMA certification program is accredited by ASFPM.

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Educational Development

Both OFMA and ASFPM offer opportunities for professional education/training at their conferences and provide additional training information through links to their websites. Other opportunities include, but are not limited to, those provided by the OWRB, FEMA and ODEM.

Each year the Oklahoma Water Resources Board staff, with assistance from the ODEM, FEMA and the Corps of Engineers, host five or more one-day floodplain management workshops. The basics of floodplain management are presented to local officials to help them understand the principles of floodplain management and how new development can be constructed so it is reasonably safe from flooding. These workshops are generally given during the month of May to coincide with "Spring Flood Awareness Month." Traditionally the Governor of Oklahoma proclaims May "Flood Awareness Month" to alert state residents to the dangers of flooding and the availability of low-cost government subsidized flood insurance. The OWRB will conduct additional one-half to one-day workshops and specialty training as staffing allows and as requested or needed.

The Board also hosts at least one intensive 5-day floodplain management course in January, which is typically held at the College of Continuing Education at the University of Oklahoma. This course, "Managing Floodplain Development Through the NFIP,” is the sanctioned FEMA-EMI course and gives floodplain administrators another opportunity to gain valuable training and education for CECs. This course is strongly recommended for any practicing floodplain administrator as well as surveyors, civil engineers and others.

These OWRB floodplain management workshops allow workshop participants to earn continuing education credits (CECs) that can be applied towards certification in the CFM Program and state floodplain administrator accreditation requirements.

For information about registering for OWRB floodplain management workshops, go to http://www.owrb.ok.gov/hazard/fp/fp_workshops.php

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, National Emergency Training Center (NETC) in Emmitsburg, Maryland, offers the finest in educational resources. The 107-acre campus is shared by the Emergency Management Institute (EMI), the National Fire Academy (NFA), and the United States Fire Administration.

The EMI offers a variety of professional level courses for the floodplain administrator. Resident courses are offered each year from October through September. The cost is minimal for state and local community floodplain officials. United States residents with substantial involvement in emergency operations are eligible to apply for Institute courses. Applicants must meet the specific selection criteria outlined with each course described in the catalog. Selection also may be based on the impact the applicant would have on emergency preparedness in the local community, the utilization potential for skills acquired, and the representative distribution of applicants from the total emergency management community. Additional information can be obtained on the FEMA/EMI website.

Other avenues to gain professional development for the local floodplain administrator are through training opportunities with the ODEM. Many of the courses offered by this office originated from the NETC and EMI. EMI offers a nationwide program of non-resident courses of instruction through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) regional offices. Most of this training is conducted in partnership with state emergency management offices. ODEM also offers other training and educational opportunities, such as hazard mitigation planning, which would be of value to the floodplain administrator.

With the passage of HB 2284 in 2004, local floodplain administrators in Oklahoma are now required to be accredited by the OWRB, codified under 82 O.S. 1620 & 1620.1. This law expands the duties of the Oklahoma Water Resources Board and amends the Oklahoma Floodplain Management Act. Statutes add definitions, expand the authority of floodplain boards, and establish accreditation standards for floodplain administrators. They furthermore call for the hiring and employment of accredited floodplain administrators.

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