BOISE, Idaho – National Flood Safety Awareness Week, March 17-21, is an annual campaign promoted by the National Weather Service and other agencies to highlight some of the many ways floods can occur, the hazards associated with floods and what people can do to save lives and property. Appropriately, the Idaho Silver Jackets, an interagency flood risk management team, is recognizing five years of working with the State of Idaho and other stakeholders in developing and implementing solutions to flood hazards.
The Silver Jackets program was established in 2006 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as part of a nationwide initiative under its National Flood Risk Management Program. The Idaho team is one of 41 active state-led teams. In addition to the Corps, the Idaho Silver Jackets includes active participation by the Idaho Bureau of Homeland Security, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, Idaho Department of Water Resources, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), National Weather Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service and U.S. Geological Survey.
Silver Jackets team members with different areas of expertise provide one-stop information to state and local government to help them identify solutions to flood hazards. Silver Jackets also help educate the public about flood risks so communities can better understand flood-related problems and assistance programs.
The team uses a patchwork quilt approach, ‘piecing’ together a solution by combining the resources of many federal, state or local agencies, including funding, data and technical expertise. The team engages throughout the flood risk management life cycle, collaborating on activities to prepare for, respond to, recover from and mitigate flood risk. Agencies comprising the Idaho Silver Jackets are involved in implementation of the National Flood Insurance Program and levee and dam safety programs, development and implementation of Idaho’s State Hazard Mitigation Plan, response and recovery from flood events, preparing weather and river flow forecasts, measuring river flows and snowpack, and planning and constructing flood risk reduction projects.
“As temperatures warm we are reminded that Idaho has a history of flooding," said IBHS director Brigadier General Brad Richy. “We are fortunate to have a great team working to address this hazard, and I invite Idahoans to be part of this process and to be informed and prepared for their flood risk."
Why are they called “Silver Jackets?” Traditionally, different agencies wear different colored jackets when responding to emergencies. For example, the Corps wears red and FEMA wears blue jackets during flood response events. The name Silver Jackets is used to underscore the common mission of the diverse agencies involved.
The Idaho Silver Jackets’ service to the state has included:
- Assisting with two separate updates to the Idaho All Hazard Mitigation Plan - Flood Unit
- Conducting levee briefings and no adverse impact workshops for local governments and levee sponsors
- Preparing a flood awareness handbook and agency flood risk program guide
- Facilitating formation of local watershed flood risk management teams
- Developing a Boise River inundation map library to assist emergency managers with one of the highest flood risk priorities in the State
- Facilitating interagency After Action Reviews to document lessons learned and identify corrective actions for floods that occurred in 2011 and 2012
- Updating flood insurance rate maps for a 6 mile reach of the South Fork Teton through Rexburg, Idaho
- Coordinating an interagency effort to mitigate increased flood risk associated with severe wildfires in Blaine and Elmore counties in 2013
The team is currently developing a non-structural flood risk mitigation workshop for local elected officials, floodplain administrators, and emergency managers that will be offered later in 2014.
More information about the Idaho Silver Jackets and their flood risk management support to Idaho agencies and local governments is available from Ellen Berggren, Idaho’s Silver Jackets Coordinator, located at the Walla Walla District’s Boise Outreach Office, at (208) 345-2065. The Idaho Silver Jackets team webpage is located at www.nfrmp.us/state/factIdaho.cfm and includes links to other federal and state agencies’ flood risk information. Additional information about the nationwide Silver Jackets program is available at www.nfrmp.us/state/index.cfm.