Wendy Lathrop PLS, CFM

Wendy Lathrop, president and owner of Cadastral Consulting, is licensed as a Professional Land Surveyor in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland, and as a Professional Planner in New Jersey. She holds a Master's degree in Environmental Policy, and has been involved in surveying since 1974 in projects ranging from construction to boundary to environmental land use disputes. Wendy is also a Certified Floodplain Manager through theAssociation of State Flood Plain Managers (ASFPM). A former adjunct instructor at Mercer County College in New Jersey, Wendy has also taught as part of the team for the licensing exam review course at Drexel University in Pennsylvania. She has been teaching seminars for surveyors since 1986 and has been writing articles for surveyors since 1983. Wendy is a contributing editor for The American Surveyor magazine, and has four articles included in the American Bar Association's text, Land Surveys: A Guide for Lawyers and Other Professionals. She and Stephen V. Estopinal, PLS, PE recently completed co–authoring a book entitled Professional Surveyors and Real Property Descriptions: Composition, Construction, and Comprehension, published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Cadastral Consulting was originally formed in 1984 by Dennis J. Mouland, PLS, for the purpose of providing a high quality source of continuing education for the real estate and land surveying professions. Wendy Lathrop, PLS, CFM first joined the Cadastral Consulting team in 2000, and purchased all rights to the Cadastral Consulting name and operation as of May 1, 2005 when Dennis returned to work with the Bureau of Land Management. The organization has expanded to provide you with more speakers able to address a broader realm of topics for the design, land use, environmental, and legal professions.
Wendy represented the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM) on the Technical Mapping Advisory Council to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the five years of that advisory group's appointment. She was recently reappointed to this Council to represent the National Society of Professional Surveyors, the successor to ACSM. She was a panel member of the National Academy of Public Administration's study of US Geographic Information resources and of the National Research Council's study of flood hazard mapping accuracy. Wendy is a past President of the New Jersey Society of Professional Land Surveyors and of the National Society of Professional Surveyors, and has served on the Board of Directors for the American Association for Geodetic Surveying.

Wendy's Courses

Buyouts: Clearing Development from Flood Prone Land

Returning developed floodplains to open space alleviates pressure on a watershed to accommodate restricted water flow, and removes people from harm’s way.

Owners of buildings that are damaged by flooding may want relief in the form of a buyout, and communities may want to avoid recurring rescue and clean up costs. FEMA’s buyout program can offer some relief, but it is important to understand both the process and the long-term effects.

This session outlines the involvement of both owners and communities in achieving buyouts: How the application begins; the appraisal and surveying work involved; the benefits/cost analysis; restrictive clauses placed in deeds of properties bought; effects on community future planning and development. Also covered are the obstacles to buyouts, whether raised by reluctant owners or uninformed or unprepared communities.

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Crawlspaces and Basements: What’s the Difference and Who Cares?

The difference between a basement and a crawlspace seems clear by common perception of what each one is. But when it comes to floodplain management, the distinction, while very specific, may not be as easy for some to discern.

Whether designing a structure to be constructed in a 1% chance floodplain, completing an Elevation Certificate for insurance or Letter of Map Change purposes, or completing paperwork for processing a buyout, the differentiation is critical for achieving the basic objectives of the National Flood Insurance Program. This session is designed to clarify the distinction and underscore its significance. Participants will leave with a better understanding of the various meanings of “lowest floor.”

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Design and Engineering in Regulated Floodplains: Technical Guidance

Clients do not always present the most ideal sites for their proposed development or redevelopment. A variety of public safety and environmental challenges may create additional considerations in the design and planning of any given project, particularly in floodplains.

The basis for floodplain management in the United States is the set of regulations found in Title 44 of the Code of Federal Regulations, and these are supplemented by a variety of technical guidance documents. The federal rules serve as the basis for local community floodplain management ordinances, which can be more stringent than the federal guidelines. Most states add a layer of flood control regulations.

Representative guidance documents supplement this discussion of a range of considerations for site development in regulated floodplains. We will include the distinction between what is technically possible by design and what is required by insurance.

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Elevations: Why and How Elevations Matter in Floodplain Management

“Elevation” refers to the height of something above (or below) a reference level.  In floodplain management, we compare elevations of structures, land, and water in deciding the best means of protecting lives and property.  Where is the lowest floor of a structure? What is the expected height of the water surface during a particular storm frequency event? Why should we care?

This course defines the various elevations of significance in designing floodplain development and protecting existing development, supplemented by applicable regulations and technical guidance documents from FEMA.  Because the Elevation Certificate is used for many floodplain management purposes, discussion of how elevations reported on this form are utilized is expanded into identifying sources of Base Flood Elevations.

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Floodplain Management: What It Is and How It Protects Us

What is flood risk, and what are the distinctions between different kinds of flooding hazards? Once we understand these basics, the concept of floodplain management as a decision-making process becomes clearer and is more readily implemented, and in the most appropriate manner. The interaction of stormwater management, wetland protection, and floodplain management offers a more nuanced understanding of risks and hazards not only to the developed landscape but also to natural resources.

Structural, non-structural, and mitigation approaches to floodplain management offer us an array of responses to the dangers of flooding, but we must be aware of repercussions of every decision we make in this arena. This session addresses each of these approaches, including benefits and drawbacks for communities and individuals. Design professionals in particular should be fully familiar with these aspects before recommending implementation of any particular approach.

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The “I” in NFIP: The Role of Insurance in Floodplain Management

Design professionals sometimes overlook the significance of the “I” in “NFIP” in their more intense technical focus.  But understanding the interaction between mandatory flood insurance requirements, flood hazard mapping, and floodplain regulations improves the likelihood of not only a safe design but one that will not exact a high price in terms of flood insurance coverage.
When is flood insurance required, and what is the basis for rating the cost of coverage? How does regulatory compliance affect flood premiums, and what kinds of construction measures are likely to help reduce those premiums?  After identifying the purpose of the National Flood Insurance Program as envisioned by Congress and formalized in federal statutes, this session answers these questions as it describes the important role of flood insurance in the pursuit better preparing the nation to face inevitable flood losses.

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Letters of Map Change: How to Update Flood Maps

A Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) represents a snapshot in time of watershed conditions, as well as a generalization of the topography. There are multiple ways to update a FIRM, and this session addresses those processes as well as the regulatory and technical background behind them. This session focuses on Letters of Map Amendment and Letters of Map Revision, the distinctions between them, the application processes to secure approval, and when they cease to be officially controlling documents.

Letters of Map Change officially supplement the currently effective FIRM, and serve to waive federal mandates for flood insurance coverage as well as federal mandates for land use regulation. An understanding of “why” must accompany the “how to do it” aspects in order to perform professionally and ethically in securing successful Letters of Map Change from FEMA.

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Mapping the Floodplain: Why and How, From Past to Future

The graphic depiction of flood hazard areas has been an important component of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) since the 1973 Flood Disaster Protection Act.  From early approximations of hazards and risks to more detailed studies, along with improvement of mapping techniques, the mapping aspect of the NFIP has played an important role in appropriate land use and flood insurance coverage.

When we understand how early mapping was compiled, we better understand our current roles and responsibilities in updating, correcting, and expanding that early attempt to depict the risks and hazards of flooding throughout the US. This session explores the components of a Flood Insurance Rate Map, the various uses of those maps, and the effects of the digital age on reliability of map data.

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The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP): Origins and Evolution

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was born in the wake of severe flooding events that awoke Congress to the fact that flood damages were costing the nation both economically and socially.  The program’s roots in a study commissioned by President Johnson have continued to guide current federal statutes and regulations regarding flood insurance and land use in floodplains since the official birth of the NFIP in 1968 through the National Flood Insurance Act. Local government adherence to those laws is mandatory for eligibility for insurance, technical guidance, and disaster assistance.

The purposes, objectives, and evolution of the NFIP continue to reflect the early vision.  This course addresses that evolution along with the roles of federal, state, and local governments and design professionals in implementing and improving it.

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Resiliency: Planning For and Recovery From Flooding Disasters

How predictable are flooding disasters? Is there anything we can do about them?  Taking stock of pre-disaster conditions helps us to prepare ourselves, our businesses, and our communities for inundation and the resulting hardships.  Beginning with definitions relating to hazards, risks, and preparedness, this program continues with a basic outline for risk assessment that is needed for mitigation planning. While we may not be able to prevent floods, we can recover from them more readily if we are aware of vulnerabilities before a disaster occurs, and plan our human-built environment accordingly. Two of the many approaches to resiliency, planning and construction as mitigation, will be the primary techniques addressed in this session.

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Sea & Shore: Coastal Areas in the NFIP

Flooding along our oceans and Great Lakes presents different hazards from those experienced along rivers and smaller lakes.  Wave actions and storm surge in coastal areas present additional dangers to structures and to the land itself, hazards not experienced in upland areas.  Regulations provide some guidance as to how coastal construction can be made more resistant to flooding, and FEMA provides significant technical guidance to address some additional means to protect structures.  But beyond structural considerations we also must acknowledge environmental factors and some of the restrictions they also impose on our plans. This course addresses both physical and regulatory factors to be considered for those living and working in coastal areas.

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Finding Your Way Through the NFIP with FEMA’s Technical Guidance

The National Flood Insurance Program can be overwhelming in its scope.  It addresses land use, construction techniques, mapping procedures, insurance rating, disaster recovery planning, and more, all for the purpose of reducing risk to lives and property in and near floodplains.  But there is a significant amount of guidance available free from the federal agency charged with managing the NFIP.

Statutory and regulatory sources provide the foundation for understanding the “why” of the NFIP and its functionality, while technical guidance publications offer more of the “how” in attaining NFIP goals and objectives. How do we determine between construction techniques to minimize flood damages?  How do we decide the best allocation of floodplain mapping resources? This course is intended to familiarize participants with the breadth and depth of information available and to point them in the right direction to find appropriate materials in addressing both “why” and “how”.

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Applied Ethics

We all know that a discussion about “ethics” in general addresses right and wrong behavior, sometimes abstractly philosophical and sometimes brought to earth by practical experiences. In real life, it isn’t always easy to decide between only two answers: right or wrong, yes or no.  Most issues are multifaceted, and the best decisions must address multiple aspects simultaneously.

An understanding of “ethics” and “guidelines” and “standards of care” steers us when we confront difficult decisions both in our private lives and our business lives. This program includes several real life examples where choices were not easy and others in which they should have been – but weren’t.

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Writing: Making Your Pen (or Keyboard) as Mighty as Your Machete

Whether by longhand or by computer, written communication plays a major role in our professional and private lives.  We communicate with words in many ways: letters, contracts, advertisements, brochures, reports, handout materials for a class.  All of the documents we write should be clear, complete, and appropriate.  To accomplish these objectives we must organize and focus our efforts.  Who is the audience? What do you want that audience to do after reading the document?

Using real life print and on-line examples, we’ll see how spelling, phrasing, punctuation, and grammar can make or break the message we wish to convey and learn how to tweak our own pens to achieve more effective communication.

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