Message from Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle

Prepare now for Florida’s rainy, storm season

May 27, 2021

Water control structures

Water control structures like this one in the upper St. Johns River help the District manage and store water during heavy rains.

Tuesday, June 1 officially marks the beginning of what forecasters predict to be a very busy hurricane season. It’s the time of year that we remind ourselves and our region’s residents and businesses to take the necessary steps to minimize flooding as the inevitable rains come our way.

Rain and periodic flooding are natural conditions for our state, but conditions that can have serious implications for people and property. While St. Johns River Water Management District staff prepare year-round for storm season and a variety of emergency situations, this time of year we focus on refreshing our knowledge, skills and processes in dealing with the rain, damaging winds and flooding that hurricanes and tropical storms can bring to our 18-county region. Drills help us heighten our preparations to make sure our staff and their families are safe, so we are ready to lend a hand where needed before and during a storm and we can respond quickly afterward. This enables us to jump into action to assist local governments, secure District facilities and clean up District lands, take part in storm coordination efforts, provide data, conduct damage assessments at District facilities and to assist local governments, provide assistance in Tallahassee, and have pumps deployed and operating in the region’s communities to help alleviate flooding as soon as storm conditions allow us to safely do so.

As part of our core missions and our resiliency efforts, we have also restored thousands of acres of wetlands throughout our jurisdiction to provide natural functions to store floodwaters and slow the storm surges along coastal wetlands. In addition, we continue to improve flood control systems at the headwaters of the St. Johns River, including hardware and software updates to systems to improve staff remote operation of flood control gates, enhancing levees, regulating wetland impacts and stormwater system construction through our permitting program, and operating flood control projects in the St. Johns River in Brevard and Indian River counties and the Harris Chain of Lakes in Lake County.

In addition to our work, your local government is a partner in preparing for and addressing flooding emergencies. Local governments are the primary 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.

Individuals can help get themselves and their neighborhoods ready as well. Report any issues with storm drains to your local government, clear debris from storm drains in front of your home or business, 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 other helpful local and state flood contacts. We encourage you to be prepared, be watchful — hope for the best this hurricane season but be prepared for the worst-case scenario.

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