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Getting a Leg Up on Floodplain Management

Providing guidance to regulators and builders on floodplain management  is part of Woods Hole Sea Grant’s mission to enhance the practical use and conservation of coastal and marine resources.

When it comes to building in a floodplain – areas at risk of flooding after significant rainfall – there are myriad regulations set by local, state, and federal governments to protect natural resources, private property, and the safety of those located in the floodplain.  Navigating these regulations can be a challenge.

In March, Woods Hole Sea Grant and the Cape Cod Cooperative Extension offered a day-long Introduction to Floodplain Management course. Led by Floodplain Specialist Shannon Hulst and colleagues from the Dept. of Conservation and Recreation, the course provided training to 49 public and private sector professionals from various fields including building, conservation, engineering, planning, geology, and surveying, helping them to be familiar with the floodplain regulations and expectations on communities. Held virtually, the course introduced attendees to the fundamentals of floodplain management which included:

  • how to find and read flood maps,
  • applicable federal and state regulations,
  • the regulatory and insurance frameworks of the National Flood Insurance Program,
  • and bylaw administration.

“We typically offer this course once every two years,” says Hulst.  “It serves as a refresher for people who have been in the field for a while and may be looking for continuing education credits. It’s also a helpful introduction to the topic for new staff and an overview for those who want to become Certified Floodplain Managers. At other times of year, we offer courses that delve into greater detail on specific issues.”

Among those who benefited from the training were staff from all 15 Cape Cod towns, 12 off-Cape towns, four local consulting firms, Barnstable County, state, and federal government officials, and more.

To be alerted to future trainings, send an email to

Shannon Hulst is the Floodplain Specialist and Community Rating System Coordinator for Barnstable County’s Cape Cod Cooperative Extension and Woods Hole Sea Grant. She is a Certified Floodplain Manager® with a Master’s degree in Marine Affairs from the University of Rhode Island.