Oregon's Department of
Land Conservation and Development (DLCD)
Oregon's Natural Hazards Mitigation Program
The State of Oregon is subject to a variety of natural hazards including stream flooding, ocean storm surge, tsunamis, high winds, landslides, wildfire, earthquakes and related phenonmena. Also, there is the possibility of volcanic activity -- as was demonstrated at nearby Mt. St. Helens in 1980. These hazards should be taken into consideration when planning for community growth and activities.
Oregon's concern for natural hazards is reflected in statewide planning goal 7 which states:
"Developments subject to damage or that could result in loss of life shall not be planned or located in known areas of natural disasters and hazards without appropriate safeguards. Plans shall be based on an inventory of known areas of natural disaster and hazards."
Statewide planning goals 17 (Coastal Shorelands) and 18 (Beaches and Dunes) deal with specific coastal hazards. Specific information on Coastal Hazards is also available.
Oregon's Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) administers a natural hazards program to assist local governments in meeting this challenge. In complying with goals 7, 17, and 18, cities and counties mitigate natural hazards and ensure their community's eligibility for participation in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
DLCD's natural hazards program provides a variety of assistance to local governments including:
- distribution of information on specific hazards and mitigation techniques. This is accomplished through workshops, speaking engagements, community visits, and the publication of a quarterly newsletter (Natural Hazards Planner); The Fall 1999 Newsletter is available in .pdf form.
- distribution of model ordinances through which hazards can be mitigated. Model ordinances are obtained from several sources, both public and private. DLCD advises its clients on which ordinance best meets their needs;
- review of local land-use plan amendments for consistency with state and federal programs and regulations;
- coordination of NFIP activities in the State of Oregon. DLCD receives a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to carry out this part of the natural hazards program;
- providing liaison between pertinent local, state, and federal agencies. DLCD representatives serve on a variety of commissions and ad hoc committees which deal with natural hazards;
- participation in federally declared disasters in the State of Oregon. DLCD has established strong ties with Oregon Emergency Management (OEM) and provides assistance as requested.
Although all natural hazards are a serious concern, flooding is the most persistent and costly to the state. DLCD has focused on this problem through a federally financed Floodplain Management Program.
Oregon's Floodplain Management Program
Oregon has 255 flood prone communities, i.e., counties and incorporated cities that are subject to inundation from a 100-year flood. There is a 1% chance in any given year that a flood of this magnitude will occur. This is a planning benchmark. Flood prone communities must adopt policies and ordinances that address this situation. Communities that adopt flood hazard ordinances that have been approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) satisfy the flood hazards element of Goal 7. They are also eligible to participate in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)
The NFIP provides low cost flood insurance to residents of participating communities -- insurance that would otherwise be unavailable. This is an important function. For example, anyone wanting to erect a residential or business structure in an area subject to a 100-year flood, and finance the construction through a federal-backed lending institution, must purchase flood insurance for the lifetime of the mortgage. Also, federal disaster relief funds are limited and do not offer the coverage provided by low-cost flood insurance.
A community that fails to implement its FEMA-approved ordinance will be suspended from the program. The effects of non- participation are far-reaching and are outlined in a publication available from FEMA or the Department of Land Conservation and Development.
The Department's Role in the National Flood insurance Program
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administers the National Flood Insurance Program. For a number of years, FEMA has invited each state to help ensure sound floodplain management by participating in a cooperative agreement. The agreement includes flood hazard mitigation tasks to be accomplished by each state cooperative agreement is between FEMA and Oregon Emergency Management -- through which a state-wide hazard mitigation plan is implemented. DLCD's floodplain management program constitutes the flood mitigation portion of the state-wide hazard mitigation plan. Each state is invited to submit a grant request which covers the cost of completing a number of FEMA objectives or tasks. Recent tasks include:
-- community assistance visits,
-- floodplain ordinance assistance,
-- attending regional office coordination meetings,
-- providing flood hazard reduction assistance, and
-- providing general technical assistance.
Oregon's Department of Land Conservation and Development has been an active participant in the cooperative agreement program. This is because FEMA's goals, objectives, and methods, coincide with those contained in Statewide Planning Goal 7 -- which DLCD administers. In addition, the FEMA grant provides funds for the Department to assist local communities in ways that would otherwise be cost prohibitive.
Oregon's Approach to Community Assistance in Floodplain Management
The Department of Land Conservation and Development maintains contact with flood prone communities throughout the state. The contacts may be in the form of pre-scheduled visits, telephone calls, area workshops, newsletters, or the distribution of FEMA flood hazard maps and publications.
The task is ongoing. Local land-use plans and ordinances must be revised to reflect new floodplain information or changes in FEMA regulations. Also, the constant turnover in local government officials warrants community assistance visits to explain floodplain regulations. This is especially true in small, rural communities.
The Department has long recognized the importance of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and strives to help flood prone communities maintain their eligibility. The level of assistance depends on the need. Assistance might entail preparing a floodplain ordinance to meet specific community needs or correcting a violation of FEMA regulations.
The Department of Land Conservation and Development implements Oregon's floodplain program with a small but experienced staff. Although the FEMA grant only provides for one full time equivalent (FTE), the entire Department staff can be considered a resource. The Department is, in fact, an interdisciplinary team. Staff personnel have various backgrounds including flood control, engineering, geology, hydrology, economics, local government relations, conflict resolution, interagency coordination, law, and land-use planning.
The Department maintains a small professional library, chiefly dealing with resources and planning. The Department can also assist in obtaining information on land-use plans and ordinances from counties and cities in Oregon.
The Department's Floodplain Program office retains copies of FEMA floodplain maps and studies for each of the state's flood-prone communities; Some are available on microfiche. The Department also has copies of FEMA publications and videotapes which deal with flood related issues.
The Department of Land Conservation and Development is represented in the Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM). This provides an opportunity to participate in current flood hazard research and to comment on proposed FEMA regulations. The Department also maintains close contact with the Army Corps of Engineers and other state and federal agencies that are involved in floodplain management. Information obtained from these organizations is relayed to local government.
For additional information, contact Ann Beier in Salem at (503) 373-0050 extension 255. She can also be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.