District responds following Florida Panhandle storms

Published June 6, 2014

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District initiated emergency permitting procedures in response to conditions resulting from the April 2014 storm that affected the Florida Panhandle. The emergency permitting procedures will be in effect through October 2014.

Federal regulations define “emergency” as a situation that would result in an unacceptable hazard to life, a significant loss of property or an immediate, unforeseen and significant economic hardship if corrective action requiring a permit is not undertaken within a period of time less than the normal time needed to process the permit application under standard procedures. 

Containment, cleanup and restoration activities to address damages directly related to the storm event and involving work in waters of the United States, including wetlands, may include dredging waterways to restore navigation or relieve flooding; removal and disposal of debris; shoreline stabilization; repair or replacement of authorized docks and bulkheads; installing temporary utility lines and access roads; replacing existing roads and bridges and installing water intake and other similar structures.

To the maximum extent possible, the Army Corps of Engineers will process permits under the Nationwide Permits Program (NWP) and/or existing Regional General Permits (RGP), which authorize projects that are substantially similar in nature and cause only minimal individual or cumulative impacts. For those actions that do not qualify for authorization under the NWP/RGP, applications will first be reviewed to determine qualification as an emergency, and then processed following a streamlined procedure in coordination with other federal agencies and the state of Florida. It is anticipated that most permit applications may be processed within 24-48 hours.

To date, Regulatory’s Pensacola permit section has verified nearly 30 Nationwide Permits for work that includes bank stabilization and infrastructure repairs. The impacted counties’ top priority projects, such as roadwork and repairs to associated infrastructure, have been completed or are in progress, reported Clif Payne, chief of the Pensacola permit section.

“The flooding was unprecedented,” said Payne. “Six counties (Esambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Washington and Holmes) were approved for Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance.”

Andrew Kizlauskas, chief of the Panama City permit section, reported that Florida Department of Transportation road repair projects have qualified for Nationwide Permit authorizations and that no other emergency permits had been requested for projects related to flood damages.

Further information and designated points of contact for each county are available on Jacksonville District’s website at: http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/PublicNotices/tabid/6072/Article/484582/april-2014-storm-event-emergency-permitting-procedures.aspx.