9A.4 The Perception of Flash Flood Risk among Emergency Managers in the NWS-MRX County Warning Area

Wednesday, 15 January 2020: 2:15 PM
151B (Boston Convention and Exhibition Center)
Savannah A. Collins-Key, Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN; and K. N. Ellis and L. Reyes Mason

Flooding events are among the greatest causes of weather-related fatalities in the United States, with flash floods considered as the deadliest type of flooding. Fatalities from floods and flash floods have also been found to be especially more prominent in the eastern United States. Vague public understanding of flash floods and the immense danger they bring can diminish the capacity of the general public and public emergency officials to take appropriate action during a flash flood event. Local-level public officials such as emergency managers (EMs) must employ several decision-making skills to aid the government, businesses, school systems, and the general public during flood events. The skills EMs use during these scenarios include emergency planning and management, applications of forecasting technology, strong communication abilities, local traditional knowledge, and geographic understanding of their management area. Although some research exists that focuses on the dissemination of tools/information to emergency managers, the threat of flash floods has scarcely been addressed, and no study to date has concentrated on the relationship between a NWS office and the emergency management directors within its County Warning Area (CWA). We proposed this study with the overall purpose of increasing our understanding of EMs in the CWA of the NWS-Morristown (MRX) office by surveying and, in some cases, interviewing the forty (40) county EMs of the MRX CWA. The objectives of this study are to assess how emergency managers across the MRX CWA perceive flash flood threats and the level of their public’s knowledge regarding flash floods; establish where EMs obtain their information during flash flood events and why; and determine the greatest concerns and communication challenges of EMs during flash flood events, and what they need to better serve their residents during these emergencies.
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