While the winds and rain of Hurricane Irma could be felt across the District for three days, the preparation and response went far beyond that time frame for District staff.
As part of the District’s core mission of flood protection, staff immediately jumped into action to meet the needs of the community in a variety of ways.
The District’s Emergency Operations Center was activated Sept. 5, days before the history-making storm would make landfall in Florida. Structure Operations staff worked to release water in anticipation of the storm, clear debris from structures and inspect generators and other equipment. General Services staff worked to secure and protect District offices and Land Management staff closed all District-managed properties.
As the storm hit our area, the District’s water control structures were monitored around the clock. Even after it passed the area, staff responded to rising water levels and various flooding issues because every major river in the District had reached a flood stage.
Business operations across all divisions in the District were affected by Hurricane Irma. Land Management and Field Operations assisted Structure Operations in removing debris from culverts, canals and structures. Equipment such as a sand bag machine and generators were deployed to government agencies in need.
Staff worked to restore power to District offices and get equipment to essential staff. Various members of staff helped watershed modeling efforts. Staff documented high water conditions for watershed modeling efforts and so that District leaders could have real-time data to make daily decisions. Information on aquifer levels and rainfall was also gathered for the water resource reports.
Public Affairs staff communicated crucial information with the media, other agencies, employees and the public. As part of that communication effort, Regulation staff manned a Flood Response hotline, where they received phone calls from at least 100 members of the public concerned about flooding. Field staff also responded to flooding issues.
Jerry Mallams, one of the District’s emergency managers, said Irma demonstrated what District staff do best.
“I am proud of District staff who acted fast to alleviate some of the dangers a record-breaking storm could bring,” said Operations and Land Management Bureau Chief Jerry Mallams. “Teamwork, professional integrity and service excellence all came into play when our staff worked hard to assist the community and other government agencies in time of need.”