District addresses Elsa, prepares for the rest of storm season

July 8, 2021

District staff monitoring storm activity

District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle (right) and Dave Dickens, the District’s emergency coordinating officer and Office of Transportation, Facilities and Safety Services director, monitor storm activity as part of the District’s emergency team.

We have all been on heightened alert this week, preparing for Hurricane/Tropical Storm Elsa. St. Johns River Water Management District staff put our emergency processes into action, ensuring facilities and flood control structures were ready, and keeping communication open with state officials and local government partners to offer assistance as needed.

In advance of Elsa, we shut our public recreational properties north of Interstate 4 for the safety of visitors and staff, and closed the Moss Bluff, Apopka-Beauclair and Burrell navigation locks until the storm had passed.

The District’s Emergency Operations Center team works year-round making sure we are ready for storm season and other emergencies to protect the District’s public assets, and to assist local governments, state and regional leaders and the public we serve. During the past week, this team and many among our staff began taking steps to secure District facilities, take part in storm coordination efforts, provide data, and have pumps and teams ready to be deployed to help alleviate potential flooding in our communities as soon as storm conditions would allow us to safely do so.

The recent storm prep is part of our year-round resiliency work. For example, our Operations and Maintenance staff continue to conduct routine maintenance and updates to levees and water control structures at the headwaters of the St. Johns River as part of our core mission to provide flood protection. Likewise, year-round our permitting staff play a part in flood protection through their work to ensure stormwater is managed on developed sites and that new drainage ditches or significant changes to existing ditches are coordinated regionally. The District and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection issue permits to install stormwater systems, which typically then become the legal responsibility of a homeowners’ association or property management company.

Your local government is also a partner in preparing for and addressing flooding emergencies. Local governments are the primarily entities responsible for land use planning, maintaining stormwater systems, implementing a community’s master stormwater plan as well as retrofit projects for areas built prior to the state’s stormwater rules.

With storm season upon us, we’ll continue moving forward with projects designed to address flooding issues and closely monitor conditions so we are fully prepared for the next storm. You can do your part by reporting any issues with storm drains to your local government, find out if you are in a flood-prone area and know who to contact in an emergency.

Visit www.sjrwmd.com/storm where you’ll find information on the District’s role in storms and find links to the National Weather Service, NOAA’s flooding statements, and helpful local and state flood contacts.

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