US Army Corps of Engineers
Jacksonville District

Hurricane Dorian: Response and Recovery

Sunny Isles Beach

-- Jacksonville District deployed staff to the state of Florida Emergency Operations Center, the Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency. We are working closely with state and local officials to coordinate preparedness and response activities.

The US Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District is in constant contact with our federal, state, and local response partners to implement recovery responses.

The Corps conducts emergency response activities under two basic authorities
1.Public Law 84-99 (Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies)
2.When mission assigned by FEMA under the Stafford Disaster and Emergency Assistance Act.
- Under PL 84-99, we provide disaster preparedness services and advanced planning measures designed to reduce damage caused by an impending disaster.
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Under the Stafford Act, we support the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA in carrying out the National Response Plan, which calls on 30 federal departments and agencies to provide coordinated disaster relief and recovery operations.

Jacksonville District Operations

  • Our focus is on helping citizens recover from Hurricane Dorian -- to return communities to normal as soon as possible.

    • Today, over 900 Corps employees reside in Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and many Corps personnel are engaged in preparation and planning for recovery efforts.

    • Our goal is to identify and mitigate risks, support a quick recovery, and prepare for a future event. 

  • The federal disaster relief mission is expected to operate in a challenging environment.

  • We urge residents to pay attention to the news and follow any county evacuation orders that are issued

Florida Herbert Hoover Dike and Lake Okeechobee

  • Before the storm, we coordinated with our partners in the South Florida Water Management District to lower the levels of the canals in the Okeechobee Waterway, specifically C-43 and C-44 prior to the storm. 

  • The current lake stage is 13.81 feet as of 12:01 a.m. (midnight) Sept. 3 and limited tropical storm force winds are expected at the lake. We do not expect overwash, overtopping or failure of the dike.

  • Initial indicators led us to estimate the lake to rise more than 3 feet over the next 30 days from Hurricane Dorian rainfall and inflow from north of the lake. Subsequent forecasts indicate less water than initially expected.  With no additional significant precipitation events, we expect the lake to rise approximately 1 foot by late-September.

  • Lake Okeechobee water level can rise rapidly. Over the last 25 years, the lake level has risen significantly on many occasions.  There were six instances where a sustained rise in lake level, between 2.5 and 4.5 feet, occurred in 90 days or less.

  • The rapid rises have occurred because the capacity to release water from the lake is dependent on structural capacity and downstream conditions which are often limited compared to inflows.

  • After the threat of the storm has passed, it is likely that we will make high volume releases out of Lake Okeechobee. The magnitude and timing of these releases will be evaluated based on current conditions, including downstream localized or tidal induced flooding.  We will actively publicize any release decision prior to implementation. The Corps must manage risk on the lake as the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season is still ahead.

  • Additionally, the deadline will be extended on the draft Environmental Assessment for a proposed deviation from Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule 2008 that is currently available for public comment. In response to Hurricane Dorian, that period of public comment was extended by 15 more days through September 20. Learn more at https://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Deviations/.

  • We will be updating information on our website at https://www.saj.usace.army.mil/storms/ as more details become available. You can also follow us on Twitter @JaxStrong or like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/JacksonvilleDistrict.

Florida Navigation

  • We continues to operate our navigation locks on the Okeechobee Waterway for extended hours while it is safe to do so. The locks will operate from 6 a.m. - 10 p.m.

  • For the safety of the lock operators, we 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.

  • The District has pre-positioned eight survey vessels and crews near deep draft ports in Florida to provide immediate harbor surveys, if required, once the storm has passed and conditions are safe to do so.

  • We work closely with our partners in the U.S. Coast Guard and various port authorities to ensure a quick return to normal port traffic.

Florida Recreation

  • Our park rangers will monitor conditions at Corps’ campgrounds and recreation areas.

  • Currently the St. Lucie Campground is closed. All other campgrounds 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 full refunds for any cancelled reservations and should monitor https://www.recreation.gov for reopening information.

Florida Coastal Shore Protection Projects

  • We have 28 active coastal shore protection projects in Florida, many of which are currently under design or in the acquisition process for renourishment.

  • We have six teams of coastal engineers standing by to inspect impacted projects as soon as it is safe to do so. Inspection teams will meet with project sponsors, survey the project area and document and assess storm impacts.

  • Coastal Storm Risk Management ( beach) projects are specifically designed to sacrifice themselves (erode) in order to  protect infrastructure from storms like Hurricane Dorian, so we expect to see erosion on many federal project sites and believe that without these projects we would see much more damage to buildings, roads, and other facilities from this storm.

Hurricane Dorian Regulatory Emergency Permitting

Regulatory News

September 4, 2019 - Emergency Permitting Authorization/Hurricane Dorian
Project Name:  Hurricane Dorian Emergency Permitting
Counties:  All Counties within Florida; Commonwealth of Puerto Rico; USVI
Comment Due Date:  N/A
Waterway and Location:  All affected waters of the United States within the noted geographic areas

Authorized Work:  The Jacksonville District Engineer has received authorization from the Commanding General, South Atlantic Division, to implement emergency permitting procedures to address 'emergency' requests following the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian. These procedures are valid for 180 days from 4 September 2019, or through 1 March 2020, unless revoked, suspended, or extended. The District Point of Contact for this action is Mr. Clif Payne:  lyal.c.payne@usace.army.mil

September 4, 2019 Hurricane Dorian Emergency Permitting Public Notice  

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