At the Florida Floodplain Managers Association, we take pride in our Education Program. Over the past few years, we have thoughtfully developed our program by searching out the most talented, knowledgeable instructors. We used input from our members to offer training that benefits floodplain managers, building officials, surveyors, professional engineers, planners, and flood insurance experts. We continue to recognize the need to coordinate this training with the Association of State Floodplain Managers, and we proctor the CFM exam frequently throughout the State. We have also noticed an interest in our training from people far beyond our Floridian borders.

Speaking of which, meet Diego A. Sanchez Gomez—all the way from Hawaii! In November, we were introduced to Diego, a staff planner with Maui County’s Department of Planning. He graduated with a BS in Engineering Physics (2013) and MS in Civil Engineering (2017) from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Diego was born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico, which is one of the driest and most populated urban centers in his home country. Having a passion for sustainability and water resources management, Diego joined the Maui County Water Resources & Planning Division in November 2017 shortly after he finished graduate school. While working at the Water Department, Diego played a key role in starting the County’s first rain barrel catchment program, and the Launiupoko Grey Water Re-Use project, which is currently underway. He now works as the new Flood Program Administrator for the County and is eager to continue learning about Hawaii’s unique water and climate challenges as he helps developers plan accordingly.

Diego came to us after contacting FFMA Education Director Sally Cook, in his search for an exam location to become a CFM. Having once visited Florida as a 5-year old to meet his childhood hero Donald Duck, Diego’s destiny returned him to the Sunshine State 25 years later. This time he traded Orlando and Donald for the L-273 FEMA training and CFM Exam in Doral, Florida. Since we are another highly humid, coastal, and hurricane-prone state, Diego took the opportunity to learn about the specific challenges and case studies of floodplain management in Florida, aiming to gain a perspective that will better inform his work back in Hawaii.

diegoBy the way, we’re excited to report that Diego passed the exam and earned his CFM! Way to go Diego! He would like to very much thank both Sally and exam host Mark Hagerty, CFM, LEED AP, City of Doral Floodplain Manager and outstanding Regional Director of FFMA Region 4, for their help in getting him in the L‑273 course and exam. He also wanted to thank Chris Perez and Roy McClure from FEMA who led the instruction at the class; he truly enjoyed meeting them. Diego had a fantastic experience and is already missing the Florida vibes. He says that since he is back to speaking English all the time on Maui, his Mexican soul is somewhat nostalgic for his Spanish-laden conversations in Doral. He sends a special shout-out to Ingrys for the Cuban coffee in the afternoons; for Diego, that alone was worth the trip!

Maui’s only other CFM just left their division in early December, so this was a very timely addition for the County. Diego sends much gratitude and a big “Mahalo” from everyone in Maui. And if you’re looking for him when he’s not working, you’ll find Diego hiking in lao Valley, playing basketball, attending church on Sundays, and eating his favorite food—tacos—whenever possible!

“Here one can observe an infant Floodplain Administrator (FPA) in his natural habitat of flood permits and elevation certificates. FPAs are known to primarily subsist on coffee and whatever nearby carbohydrates are available. Their only known natural predators are applicants with after-the-fact permits in the unnumbered A Zones or AE floodways.” ~ Diego A. Sanchez Gomez

Congratulations Diego! FFMA is so happy that we could help bring you into the CFM family, and we truly look forward to continuing our friendship!