2012 IAFSM Awards

A highlight of every annual conference is the IAFSM Awards Luncheon. It is the time when IAFSM members show their appreciation for coworkers and colleagues who have gone above-and-beyond the call of duty. In Rosemont, eight awards were presented.

Floodplain Manager of the Year Award

City of Metropolis

The 2012 award goes to City of Metropolis, Superman’s hometown. Located along the Ohio River, Metropolis has a long history of flooding. 2011 was a record year for flooding but it could have been much worse. Metropolis has been very proactive over the years to reduce flood losses. After the 2011 flood, the City quickly completed damage assessments. City employees Chad Murray and Kathy Benard tagged buildings, helped citizens find alternative housing, and plotted each loss on GIS complete with documentation and elevations. They were the first flooded community to submit an application for mitigation funding (which has since been approved by the state and is awaiting FEMA approval). They conducted floodproofing and reconstruction workshops for citizens. Using 100% City funding, they purchased many flood prone structures in town. By this time next year, Metropolis expects to have eliminated nearly all of their flood risk.

Outstanding Service Awards

Hank DeHaan and Matt Hunn, ACOE

Hank DeHaan and Matt Hunn of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers received the award for going far above normal expectations to address levee issues and local floodplain management in Illinois. Most importantly, they have added a human face and a reliable point-of-contact for virtually all Corps activities in Illinois. Together they have: 

  • Overseen the inspection and coordination of nearly 1,500 miles of levee systems in Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri. 
  • Lead the Corps effort to evaluate performance of Mississippi River levees, floodways, and reservoirs during the 2011 flood event (from St. Louis to New Orleans). 
  • Assisted citizens in understanding risk and what to do about it.
  • Participated on state and regional teams focused on improving flood risk management.
  • Represented IL and Midwest on National flood risk management teams.
  • Coordinated Corp‘s flood fight efforts in 2008 and 2011 floods.

Cheryl Ramsey, FEMA

Cheryl Ramsey of FEMA also received the Outstanding Service award. Although very few IAFSM members know Cheryl, a huge number of people in Illinois have been positively impacted by her
work. She has been a FEMA Disaster Assistance Employee (DAE) for nearly 20 years, and in that time has become OUR disaster assistance employee. As a FEMA DAE, Cheryl processes all the paperwork during declared disasters, coordinates all the response and recovery actions, promotes mitigation programs, responds to complaints, and works with Illinois citizens during what could be the lowest periods of their lives. We are truly blessed to have Cheryl as our DAE. She is extremely knowledgeable about mitigation and has always provided valuable insight for NFIP issues and Mitigation grants. Her tact, insight, diplomacy, overall knowledge, and organizational skills are invaluable, especially during some seemingly insurmountable and chaotic times. Cheryl LOVES people and she has a level of dedication that goes  above-and-beyond the level of above-and-beyond level required for this award. Much of our disaster recovery and mitigation success is due to Cheryl.

Stormwater Management Awards

Two awards were given this year: Dundee Township for best project, and Robert Murdock for best Stormwater Manager.

Stormwater Management: Dundee Township

Dundee Township won the Stormwater Management Project award for the Jelkes Creek Quarry Restoration Project located in Kane County. Dundee Township teamed with Living Waters Consultants to complete the project, which restored 150 acres of eroded quarry with chronic flooding and 20-foot tall degraded slopes into a recreational park amenity. Features include fishing lakes, emergent wetland habitat, walking trails, scenic overlooks, ADA accessible fishing piers, pavilion, and a parking facility. Stormwater BMPs include 3500 feet of bioswales, 5000 linear feet of terraced wetlands, 110 acres of native plant seeding, sediment forebays, reuse of sand and gravel bioswales and infiltration, buffer filtration, and rock checks. Over 86 acres of the project site now retain and infiltrate runoff into the regional groundwater supply, protecting Jelkes Creek water quality. The project provides flood control, water quality and ecological benefits, which include: retention and filtration of runoff by wetlands, native plants, bioswales, and on-site aggregate soils; long-term site stabilization; habitat diversity; species recovery; improved site aesthetics; and protection of downstream Jelke Creek and the Fox River basin.

Stormwater Management: Robert Murdock, Michael Baker Jr.

The Stormwater Manager Award was also presented to Robert Murdock. During his five years as Stormwater Committee Chair for IAFSM, Bob grew the committee from a one-man-operation to an energetic committee with many active members. The committee was an important stakeholder in the Green Infrastructure for Clean Water Act study on Stormwater BMPs and their potential statewide requirement, attending nearly all of the outreach and input sessions with IEPA and UIC and helping to draft IAFSM’s official comments on the final draft report in 2010. Perhaps most importantly, Bob organized and hosted over 11 different workshops and educational sessions to provide
training and education to over 800 stormwater and floodplain managers. Many of your CECs may be courtesy of Bob’s efforts. Congratulations and Thank You, Bob!

Mitigation Award

SIU Natural Hazards Research and Mitigation Group

This year’s Mitigation award goes to Southern Illinois University Center, Natural Hazards Research and Mitigation Group, led by Dr. Nicholas Pinter, a geology professor at SIUCarbondale.

Dr. Pinter wanted his students to do more than just academic research, so in 2006 SIU received a grant to develop 16 mitigation plans for counties in Southern Illinois. Fueled by their initial success, Dr. Pinter and his students developed 25 mitigation plans, representing nearly 25% of all the mitigation plans done in Illinois. One component of the mitigation plans is GIS mapping, led by Dr. Jonathon Remo. SIU is a leader in GIS mapping and their mitigation plans have become a national model for how to incorporate solid GIS modeling to forecast risks and probability. Dr. Remo is one of the nation’s premier users of FEMA’s HAZUS software. FEMA calls him with questions! As an extension of their mitigation planning efforts, Dr. Pinter and his students worked to help Alexander County and the Town of Olive Branch recover from the 2011 floods. Students Beth Ellison and Jen Dierauer, among others, spent long hours helping organize the recovery and process paperwork. They developed one of Illinois’s largest mitigation applications to acquire and relocate the entire town of Olive Branch. They worked especially hard to keep the community together by holding public meetings, working with citizens to explain the process, and developing a relocation site. All of this work was done as a volunteer effort by SIU. SIU has made a lasting impact on the flood loss reductions in Southern Illinois.

Journalism and Public Education Award

Village of South Holland

The 2012 Public Education Award goes to the Village of South Holland. The South Holland floodplain management website is a model example of community outreach. The website is packed with information and incorporates a multitude of links and documentation on flood insurance, codes, regulations, “why do we flood”, floodproofing, etc. In addition, South Holland has held
many floodproofing open houses, conducted citizen outreach programs, and has done the popular flood mitigation rebate program. Over the years, the Village of South Holland has implemented an outstanding public education program to educate citizens about flooding and flood loss reduction. Visit http://www.southholland.org/index.php?page=FloodProtection to see their great work!

2012 IAFSM Awards Committee:

David Schein
Ron Davis
Stu Richter
Scott Cofoid
Brian Eber
Paul Osman

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