Official Support makes Public Information Program a Local Highlight
Pompton Lakes, New Jersey, has adopted a new, coordinated approach to making its 11,000 residents aware of flooding concerns and what to do about them. The community is a Class 5 under the CRS, and gets credit for its 30-inch freeboard standard, among many other regulations and activities. But the overall heightened awareness of floodplain management has evolved into a strong emphasis on the local public information program.
Working under the new outreach project guidelines for CRS credit, Pompton Lakes has developed an “amazing program for public information (PPI),” explained Nicholas Agnoli, the Borough’s Consulting Engineer.
As required for CRS credit, Pompton Lakes created a committee to design and oversee a comprehensive initiative for building awareness of flooding and spurring individuals to take suitable actions to reduce their flood risk. The Pompton Lakes PPI committee is headed by the mayor, and its 13 members are drawn from the City Council, municipal officials, the local flood advisory board, as well as representatives of the local insurance agencies and banks.
“The fact that the mayor is the chair has placed a very high emphasis on the PPI committee and its role in the community,” Agnoli explained.
Many of the public outreach efforts the committee chose to carry out are geared toward people who live in or have property in the floodplain. But school children were a specially targeted audience.
“Our local emergency manager, Al Evangilista, has done a great job of speaking to school kids,” Agnoli said.
The targeted outreach project had Evangilista visiting schools with kindergarteners through fifth graders. His presentations and subsequent discussions brought age-appropriate instructions on flood safety. In a non-threatening situation, children were able to learn what they could do before, during, and after a flood emergency.
The community has also been distributing printed materials to classrooms. Its awareness and education efforts earn CRS credit points, contributing to lowered flood insurance premiums in the Borough.
Agnoli credits the CRS with contributing to Pompton Lakes’s permanent mitigation program.
“We have set a goal of removing 10 homes from the local floodplain every year,” he explained.
To do this, the Borough uses various state and federal programs that target repetitive loss and severe repetitive loss properties.
The community is about 3 square miles (1920 acres). Three years ago, it had 84 acres of protected floodplains. Now there are 231 acres of preserved open space in the floodplain—12% of the community’s area.
“Those areas will never incur flood damage,” Agnoli noted. “What’s more, we earn CRS credit points for that open space.”
CRS gives an Economic Boost
The mayor of Pompton Lakes routinely gives the following explanation of the value of CRS to the community. “There are 668 NFIP policies in force. Because of the community’s participation in the CRS, policy holders realize a 30% reduction in flood insurance premiums. Since Pompton Lakes joined the CRS, this has meant a savings of around $300,000 for NFIP policy holders. And an added bonus is that that $300,000 will most likely be spent right here in the community, with the net result of boosting its economy.”