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Kentucky: Improving Flood Risk Management following a Major Flood

In May 2010, the City of Frankfort, KY, was impacted by a major flood. The event underlined the need for an active Silver Jackets team to take full advantage of the window of opportunity in moving flood risk management forward. One of its first priorities was to work with the City of Frankfort to promote flood awareness and assist in flood risk management. Eleven state and federal agencies including Kentucky Utilities partnered with the City of Frankfort and Franklin County to take full advantage of USACE Silver Jacket Pilot Project funding to promote multi-agency collaboration and coordination while addressing community needs. Frankfort was an excellent candidate since there were already several organizations committed to projects in the area. For example, FEMA was in the process of updating the Flood Insurance Rate Maps, the USGS was planning a flood inundation mapping initiative in response to the 2010 floods, and the electric utility was interested in updating an Emergency Action Plan for an electricity-generating dam upstream of the city. In addition, the levee system protecting Frankfort had been accredited by local officials. The Kentucky Silver Jackets charter was awarded Pilot Project funding to build upon these ongoing initiatives.

The Pilot Project covered three major activities: development of flood inundation maps for a 7 mile reach of the Kentucky River through the City of Frankfort and Franklin County, completion of a levee failure analyses for two reaches along the Kentucky River, and the preparation of Dix River Dam inundation mapping to be incorporated into an updated Emergency Action Plan. Even though these three separate activities are driven by different agencies, they share common goals and resources. There are significant cost savings in leveraging resources from federal, state, and community sources. Some of the resources leveraged include LIDAR data, hydraulic modeling on the Kentucky River, high water mark data, surveys and bathymetry, levee and dam failure analyses, local property valuation data, and funding.

Once the project is completed, there will be many tangible benefits that will result in risk reduction. The web-based, interactive flood inundation mapping product will lead to an increased awareness of flooding in general on the Kentucky River and the site specific risks of living near a levee or downstream of a dam. The interactive maps can be used as a planning tool for identification of accessible evacuation routes. An assessment of levee failure and overtopping of the Dix River Dam included impacted areas, business interruptions, and long term recovery requirements. All the above information will be readily available to assist the City of Frankfort in updating their Flood Mitigation Plan. The project will lead to a financial savings for individual home and business owners since flood insurance premiums are expected to be reduced through the Community Rating System.

The experience of combining resources and funding for the City of Frankfort will put the Silver Jackets Team in a better position when another flood event occurs. The multi-agency approach to problem solving provides a broader and more pro-active solution. 

For more information on the pilot project, please see, “Silver Jackets Pilot Project Achievements and Interagency Perspectives on Evaluating Risk Reduction – A Kentucky Success Story. 2012.