District emergency operations team members and other staff are working around the clock in advance of powerful Hurricane Dorian, monitoring water levels and adjusting water control structures as needed, preparing to participate in search and rescue operations, staging equipment and personnel for recovery efforts and sharing vital information to the public. (Image courtesy of Florida Division of Emergency Management, 8 a.m. update, Sept. 2)
PALATKA, Fla., Sept. 2, 2019 — Here is a summary of the St. Johns River Water Management District’s current status of operations:
- The district’s headquarters in Palatka, service centers in Palm Bay, Maitland and Jacksonville and its field stations will close Tuesday, Sept. 3, until further notice as Hurricane Dorian skirts Florida’s east coast. For information about office closings, visit the www.sjrwmd.com website or call the Palatka headquarters switchboard at 800-451-7106 for a recorded message.
- District emergency operations team members and other staff are working around the clock in advance of powerful Hurricane Dorian, monitoring water levels and adjusting water control structures as needed, preparing to participate in state search and rescue operations, staging equipment and personnel for recovery efforts and sharing vital information to the public.
- Water began discharging through the Harris Bayou Spillway on Aug. 29. The district has been making small adjustments throughout the long weekend, along with a corresponding adjustment at the Moss Bluff Dam to pass through increased inflows.
- The district further opened Burrell Dam on Saturday, Aug. 31, to increase water storage in lakes Harris, Eustis, Dora, Beauclair and Little Lake Harris, in the Upper Ocklawaha River system.
- All district lands were closed at noon Saturday and will remain closed until the storm has passed and staff are able to evaluate them for public safety. The closure includes the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive.
- Water storage is currently available in Upper St. Johns River Basin and the Upper Ocklawaha River Basin. While the Upper St. Johns River Basin Project reduces flooding in much of the upper St. Johns, it does not reduce flooding in the river’s middle basin in east-central Florida, including lakes Monroe and Harney, nor further downstream in the river’s lower basin in north Florida.
- Locks, spillways, pump stations, levees and canals in the headwaters of the St. Johns River in Brevard and Indian River counties and in the Harris Chain of Lakes in Lake County are the district’s only structural controls of water levels. All these water control structures are in very good shape operationally.
- District staff approved the removal of excavators working on the Flagler County Wetland Restoration Project from the construction areas on Aug. 28 due to flooding concerns. The equipment has been removed and secured by the contractor.
- The district’s webpage at www.sjrwmd.com/storm offers information about the storm and water levels, including links to flood statements and warnings, river stage and flooding data, and local government emergency contacts. Also included are links to the National Weather Service, Florida Division of Emergency Management and the U.S. Geological Survey’s interactive map of current conditions in the state.
- Local governments are the primary entities responsible for emergency responses during storms, such as implementing state-of-emergency declarations, evacuations and rescue efforts during flood-related disasters. Homeowners can be prepared for heavy rains by keeping debris out of storm drains and ditches; reporting clogged ditches to local governments; and cleaning out gutters and extending downspouts at least four feet from structures.