“No” Can Be a Good Thing

Terri Turner, chosen from a from a pool of more than 1,500 candidates nominated through the White House web site, was selected as a Champion of Change for the positive impact she is making in her community.


I came from a family with a strong work ethic.  My Daddy used to tell me that if I wasn’t giving 100%, that I was cheating someone - I learned very quickly that, most of all, I was cheating myself if I wasn’t giving my all, and then some, to those around me.  So I was always doing “more,” giving “more,” trying to be “more.”  It was quite natural that I ended up in a community service field.  For the past 18 years, I have worked for City and County governments as a Planner, Floodplain Manager and Hazard Mitigation Specialist (among a lot of other hats that I just quite naturally wear with my present position as Augusta, Georgia’s Development Administrator).

However, not content with doing enough to make a difference in my “day job” in Augusta, I ventured out into state and national service via organizations such as the Georgia Association of Floodplain Management (GAFM), the Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) and the Natural Hazard Mitigation Association (NHMA).  Through these organizations, I have been blessed to be mentored by the best and brightest in the planning, floodplain management, and hazard mitigation fields.  I have also been encouraged by these same mentors to build upon my love for these disciplines and venture forth into public speaking, research, and writing endeavors – all in the hopes of managing the natural and man-made threats and hazards that plague our local communities, and lessening the costs and misery caused by flooding and other natural disaster events.

One common thread runs through all of my work – that emphasis is building long-term sustainability and community resiliency through sound floodplain management and hazard mitigation practices. For without disaster resistant homes to live in and disaster resistant buildings in which to work, we are doomed to fail as a community, and ultimately, as a nation.

That is why my work on ASFPM’s No Adverse Impact (NAI) Floodplain Management Initiative is so vitally important.  Flood damages in the US continue to rise despite all of the money and efforts we have put into combating flooding, with damages averaging over $6 billion annually, in recent years. 

As described on the website of the Association of State Floodplain Managers,

"No Adverse Impact Floodplain Management” is a managing principle that is easy to communicate and, from legal and policy perspectives, tough to challenge. In essence, No Adverse Impact floodplain management takes place when the actions of one property owner are not allowed to adversely affect the rights of other property owners.

“No Adverse Impact principles give communities a way to promote responsible floodplain development through community-based decision making. With the No Adverse Impact approach, communities will be able to put federal and state programs to better use, enhancing their local initiatives to their communities' advantage. No Adverse Impact floodplain management empowers the community (and its citizens) to build better-informed "wise development" stakeholders at the local level and to manage their flood hazards and their development more effectively; thus reducing flood losses and protecting property in the process.”

So, you see, “No” is not necessarily a bad thing – especially when it is preventing harmful impacts on others, preserving the rights of everyone in the community, and promoting and rewarding strong water stewardship, all-the-while creating community sustainability and promoting community resiliency.  I don’t know about you, but it sounds like a win-win to me!

Terri Turner is the Development Administrator, Floodplain Manager, and Hazard Mitigation Specialist for Augusta, Georgia.

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