As Tropical Storm Nicole makes its way toward Florida, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Jacksonville District is responding as needed and providing information to boaters and campers on operational adjustments to navigation, recreation, and Lake Okeechobee operations.
The Jacksonville District activated its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Nov. 7.
“We are coordinating closely with Federal agencies, state, local, and tribal government officials in Florida to support local residents and prepare for the impacts of Tropical Storm Nicole on the state, our facilities, and projects,” said Col. James Booth, commander of the Jacksonville District. “We urge residents to pay attention to the news and follow any county evacuation orders that are issued immediately.”
Jacksonville District is issuing the following guidance on its operations in south Florida:
- The Herbert Hoover Dike (HHD) was inspected following Hurricane Ian, and USACE operations staff are checking all structures and the dike in advance of Tropical Storm Nicole. HHD is safer today than it has ever been going into a storm. Construction on the dike is 97% complete, all culvert replacements and removals are done, and the cutoff wall construction is 99% complete.
- USACE plans no pre-storm releases from Lake Okeechobee. Following standard operating procedures, operations teams will close all USACE structures on the lake during the storm to maintain the integrity of HHD. The St. Lucie Lock and Dam (S-80) will be opened as needed for flood control and navigation on the C-44 canal.
- USACE does not have a current estimate of how much lake rise can be anticipated by this storm, but with the lake already at nearly 16 feet, the potential exists that high-volume releases will be needed following the storm.
- Navigation locks on the Okeechobee Waterway will operate for extended hours while it is safe to do so. Beginning Nov 8, 2022, the locks will operate from 7 a.m. - 10 p.m., with the last lockage at 9:30 p.m. The Canaveral Lock will be open for normal hours, 6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. with the last lockage starting at 9 p.m. For the safety of the lock operators, the USACE will suspend operations when lightning is in the area or when winds reach 35 miles per hour. We will update Notices to Navigation on our website and notify the public through our social media platforms.
- Park rangers are monitoring conditions at USACE campgrounds and recreation areas. Currently the recreation facilities at the W.P. Franklin Lock and Dam are closed after suffering damage from Hurricane Ian. All other campgrounds and recreation facilities managed by the Corps of Engineers in Florida are still open. If a county government issues an evacuation order for mobile homes or RV parks in an area where there is a Corps’ campground or recreational facility, rangers will order an evacuation of the facility and advise on shelter locations. Visitors should move all campers, motor homes, tents, vessels, and trailers from facilities under evacuation orders. Campers will receive refunds for any cancelled camping reservations through the reservation system contractor. For more information on refunds, guests can go to www.recreation.gov or call 877-444-6777.
- Survey vessels and crews are prepositioning near deep draft ports in Florida to provide immediate harbor surveys, if required, once the storm has passed. USACE works closely with our partners in the U.S. Coast Guard and various port authorities to ensure a quick return to normal port traffic.
- Coastal engineers will inspect Coastal Storm Risk Management projects as soon as it is safe to do so following the storm. Post storm inspections will be used to determine if any additional steps are necessary as a result of storm damage. The beach projects are specifically designed to help protect infrastructure from storms like Tropical Storm Nicole. USACE can also inspect non-federal beaches for damage if given a mission assignment to do so by FEMA through the state EOC.
- The safety of the community is a priority for USACE’s Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS) Program. Due to the likelihood of inclement weather from Tropical Storm Nicole, USACE is canceling the drop-in meeting for the former Naval Air Station Banana River Off-Base Disposal Area scheduled for Nov. 9 at the Pelican Beach Club House. USACE will announce future opportunities to meet with the project team later. For questions, e-mail them to FUDS.Florida@usace.army.mil or call 800-710-5184.
Information for boaters, campers, those living near Lake Okeechobee, the Herbert Hoover Dike, and the Northern Estuaries will be updated regularly on the USACE website at https://saj.usace.army.mil/Nicole. You can also follow on Twitter @JaxStrong or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/JacksonvilleDistrict.
Release no. 22-069