Reducing Our Risk

City of Arlington, Texas

Entry Overview

In 2010, remnants of Tropical Storm Hermine caused widespread flooding in Arlington, submerging many low-lying pockets under several feet of water. Firefighters had to use ladders and boats to reach stranded residents and over twenty roadways, including several arterial streets, were flooded and closed due to hazardous conditions.  The flooding caused intermittent power outages, temporary road closures, evacuations, contaminated water supplies in some areas, and hazardous post flood conditions.   Approximately 250 homes were flooded or left uninhabitable throughout the City.  Residents were confused about why their homes flooded and why the City was unable to prevent the flooding.  Many did not have insurance or were unaware that their homeowner’s and renter’s policies did not cover flood damage.  The City used the disaster to try to educate citizens and City leaders about the dangers of flooding, with the Sink or Swim Flood Novella.  The City has since continued the mission to promote flood safety awareness whenever possible.   

General Info
Email :
Organization Address: 
101 W. Abram Street / PO Box 90231 MS 01-0220
Arlington, Texas 76004-3231
United States
Population Impacted: 
Approximately 380,000
Identify the likelihood and frequency of this hazard : 
Flooding can occur with any storm at any time throughout the City.
Explain how vulnerable the community is to this hazard: 
Flooding affects all social and economic groups. it impacts businesses and residents, and can limit emergency access and response.
List the potential affects of this hazard: 
Flooding is the #1 leading cause of severe weather-related deaths in the US. Flooding can also result in loss of housing or other property and loss of income for the City’s residents and businesses. For the City, flooding can result in loss of infrastructure, an increase in emergency response times, loss in City funds (when funds are diverted to cleanup efforts), and loss of City tax base.
Identify how sensitive the community is to these affects: 
Over 10% of the land in the City of Arlington is in a FEMA regulated special flood hazard area, but flooding affects more than just those in a defined floodplain. Those who don’t know about their risk and don’t have flood insurance can be the most vulnerable to losses.
Preparedness Goal: 
Educating Arlington citizens about flood hazards, preparedness, and insurance to reduce the risks to life and personal property.
Implementing Actions: 

The City of Arlington, Stormwater Management Division, has developed a unique way of spreading awareness about flood preparedness with the creation of a graphic novella (comic book), “The Rescue League Academy: Sink or Swim.”  This novella demonstrates the importance of being prepared for floods in a way that people of all ages will understand.  Readers follow Bianca, Shawn, Sonny, Sam, and their families as they experience a major Texas flash flood.  Included in the novella is a Flood Safety Checklist so that readers can get their family, home, workplace, or school ready before disaster strikes.

Describe Your Solution: 

This novella lays the foundation for residents’ initial understanding of flooding and flood preparedness before, during, and after a flood.  As flooding can happen anywhere and at any time, residents must be made aware of the dangers of rising floodwater and specific behaviors that could help protect lives and property.  This novella helps to foster an understanding of flooding and flood preparedness, as well as a respect for our natural resources.  The novella serves as educational (and entertaining) resource for residents who need information regarding flooding and flood preparedness.  The novella is available in its entirety at:




Economic savings occur when homeowners and business owners insure their property for flood hazards thereby reducing costs for replacing property should floods occur.  The number of citizens and businesses obtaining flood insurance as a result of this education program has not been quantified.


Because the City of Arlington opted to print limited copies and primarily make the novella available for download online, we have been able to lessen our environmental impact (i.e. by using less paper.)  These savings have not been quantified.


The social impact of the program pertains to reducing the loss of life and property associated with flooding.  When people are educated about flood hazards, they are less susceptible to the impacts and losses associated with flooding.  An informed citizenry is a vital requisite for surviving flood hazards and protecting property. These savings have not been quantified.

What were the negative or unintended impacts (if any) associated with implementing this solution? : 

There were no negative impacts as a result of our development and implementation of the flood novella. 

Return on Investment: How much did it cost to implement these activities? How do your results above compare to this investment?: 

The initial investment for the graphic artwork of the novella was approximately $13,000.  The City of Arlington produced limited print copies of the novella at minimal cost as the novella would be available for download on the Stormwater Management website.  However, we’ve seen a marked return on investment with requests for copies of the novella for schools, businesses, and other cities in (and outside) of Texas.  While the city could not fulfill these requests, the implication is that the novella made a significant public impact.   

The City’s goal is simply to create an informed citizenry with the tools to take action in the face of potential hazards.  Thus, if we are able to reach one citizen with our novella and flood awareness program, we feel we have received a 100% return on our investment. 

The novella is available in its entirety at:

What are the main factors needed to successfully replicate this solution elsewhere?: 

Replication of this project only requires the use of a highly skilled graphic artist (or team).  The City of Arlington sent out a request for proposals (RFP) to several graphic artists clearinghouses.  Artists then submitted their work directly to City Staff for consideration in the selection process.  Other cities or organizations would only need to provide an initial investment for the graphic artwork only, with additional funds for printing if they see fit.  Many organizations have in-house graphic artists who could create such a project thus reducing the costs.  

Contest Info
Contest Name: 
Reducing Our Risk

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