Emergency Action Planning



Citizen Action

Citizens Action

What You Can Do

There is more you can do as a citizen with a stake in EAP compliance by owners of HHP dams.

  • Learn the Indiana dam safety laws and regulations.
  • Follow legislative initiatives. Contact your state legislators, administrators at the Department of Natural Resources, and aides to the governor to learn the status of legislation to update Indiana dam safety laws.
  • Get to know your municipal or county emergency management director (EMD) because EAPs are developed with the help of EMDs and are on file with them. Find out which HHP dams in your area or your favorite recreational getaway have EAPs and which do not.
  • Contact owners of HHP dams of particular interest to you. They are listed on the Indiana dam inventory, available by contacting the DNR Division of Water Dams and Levees branch. Then ask the owners about completing an EAP. Perhaps there is something you or an organization you belong to can do to help the owner with an EAP.
  • Organize other citizens and petition state government to put more resources into efforts to have an EAP on every HHP dam in Indiana.
  • Join organizations already involved in dam safety and flood prevention, such as the Indiana Silver Jackets or environmental organizations.

Get Involved in Hazard Mitigation for Dams

Photo of meetingMitigation strategies rely on working groups that bring together a broad range of government officials (e.g. building codes, planning and zoning, public works, emergency management, engineering, housing, transportation) and officials from such entities as utilities, school systems, water management districts, area businesses, insurance providers, land developers, and non-profit organizations. To assist these working groups, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security provides technical assistance in the form of training, workshops, and materials. Citizens interested in working on hazard mitigation for dams can work with their local emergency managers to find ways to join this effort to achieve more EAPs on HHP dams.

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) in 2008 published the Indiana Hazard Mitigation Plan, which included several projects for development. One of the ongoing projects pertains to EAPs for HHP dams.

  • Project 11: Encourage and assist Dam Owners to develop, maintain, and test Dam Emergency Action Plans which include inundation maps for possible failures. Incorporate inundation map data in the determination of dam failure probability.
  • Lead Agency: Indiana Department of Natural Resources - Dam & Levee section
  • Coordinating Agencies: Local emergency management, National Weather Service, DNR, U.S. Geological Survey, Indiana State Legislature
  • Possible Funding Sources: Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, local sources
    Timeline: Ongoing

How Project Contributes to Mitigation Strategy: Identify areas at risk for flooding from dam breaches and increase downstream residents awareness of their risk of dam failure related flooding. Emergency Action Plans should include contacting National Weather Service when imminent dam failure is expected. Contact with NWS can allow NWS to issue Flash Flood Warnings, thereby activating the Emergency Alert System, which increases media's and public awareness of hazard.

About 1,000 dams are regulated by the state of Indiana. Of these, 240 are HHP dams. A HHP dam is defined as a dam located where failure may cause loss of life, serious damage to homes, industrial and commercial buildings, important public utilities, main highways or railroads. About 250 are significant hazard dams. Significant dams are located predominantly in rural or agricultural areas where failure may damage isolated homes, main highways or minor railroads or cause interruption of use or service of relatively important public utilities. The remaining 500 are low hazard dams.

Although all dams pose a risk to the community, the HHP dams present the greatest population risks and vulnerabilities. As is occurring nationwide, residential development is spreading into the valleys below many dams statewide, causing dams previously rated lower to be elevated to a higher hazard classification. This is a dynamic situation. In order to provide a starting point the state of Indiana wishes to begin by addressing the highest hazards which may impact the greatest populations.

In the 2004 legislative session the legislature considered but did not pass a law that would have required the development of EAPs by dam owners. After the 2005 Katrina event, however, the FEMA National Dam Safety Program has identified the creation of EAP's for all high hazard dams nationwide as a significant priority (regardless of whether states have a statutory mandate requiring such planning).

Creation of EAP's is expensive and no funding or staff resources are currently identified for this project. This will require joint program development, creativity, and cooperation between DNR and IDHS to ultimately accomplish the goal of reducing risks for downstream residents.

Mitigation is Every Citizen's Opportunity to Contribute

Mitigation is the effort to reduce loss of life and property by lessening the impact of disasters. Mitigation is taking action now - before the next disaster - to reduce human and financial consequences later (analyzing risk, reducing risk, insuring against risk).  Effective mitigation requires that we all understand local risks, address the hard choices, and invest in long-term community well-being. Without mitigation actions, we jeopardize our safety, financial security, and self-reliance. 

Every community in the United States is at risk for serious loss of life and/or property due to a disaster, be it hurricane, earthquake or flood. Because of the documented magnitude of the costs of these losses, numerous programs have been created to lessen the effects of manmade or natural events should they occur. Indiana's hazard mitigation program provides financial and technical assistance to local governments to fund eligible projects to assist not-for-profit organizations, individuals and families to reduce the actual or potential risk of loss of life or property. The federal share of assistance is not less than 75% of the eligible project costs. The Grantee/sub-grantee is responsible for the 25% local match requirement.

Indiana's Mitigation Tool Box is designed to serve as a single point of entry to comprehensive information about mitigation grant program resources, initiatives, policies, regulations, partnerships, research, education and outreach. This website has been purposely designed to be copied, distributed, and shared. This toolbox is not designed to replace or substitute for training provided by IDHS Mitigation.