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SWL Table Top Exercise Stresses Coordinated Communication

How do you react if there is an emergency event at one of your lock and dams?

How to react and communicate was the major purpose for a recent table top exercise held Russellville, Ark.

The Dardanelle Lock and Dam-Arkansas Nuclear One Table Top TTX was a moderator-led event designed to present realistic problems arranged sequentially in a simulated environment.  The exercise scenario covered the Dardanelle Lock and Dam and communication with ANO during an emergency event at the lock and dam.

84 participants from 22 federal, state, and local agencies attended the dam safety exercise.

The primary focus of the scenario was to foster a better understanding of each agencies roles and practice coordination efforts by working through the complexities of an emergency event taking place at one of the Little Rock District’s lock and dams.

 

Matt Moix, Little Rock District hydrologist presents a briefing about the Arkansas River to the exercise attendees

“The purpose of this exercise for us is to enhance communications and getting to know the people we would work with during an event, before the event actually happened, said Tony Hill, Little Rock District emergency management chief.  Knowing who is going to be responding and meeting with them before we actually have a problem.”

The exercise helped to educate participants on responsibilities in response to an event at our lock and dams.

“This exercise helps me to be able to see face-to-face who I may be talking to and how much impact we have outside the state and how much support we have outside the state, said Kenyon McNeil, Arkansas Nuclear One, operations manager for support.”

The exercise encouraged discussion on existing and future plans, policies and regulations concerning operation of the lock and dam and coordination with other outside agencies.

Having a plan is great but knowing who to contact when an emergency happens could save life and property.

The Dardanelle Lock and Dam exercise gave all participants the opportunity to network with their counterparts and review their crisis action standard operating procedures.

Communication Important When Dealing With Levee Safety

Recently, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Little Rock District has been conducting levee safety risk communication meetings with local elected officials and levee board members.  Why are they having these meetings?

The 2007 Water Resource Development Act directed the Corps of Engineers establish and maintain a database with an inventory of the nation’s levees.

In 2010 the district initiated their Level Risk Assessment of each of the levees in their portfolio to help them get a better understanding of the anticipated performance and risk associated with the levees in the district.

The risk assessment takes into account the current condition of the levee, how it is anticipated to perform under certain conditions and what are the consequences if the levee fails to perform under certain conditions and what are the consequences if the levee fails prior to overtopping and at overtopping.

The Corps’ 2015 “Policy Guidance Letter on Placing Levees in a Risk Context, Emphasis on Communication Sponsor Engagement” establishes guidance for communicating flood risks determined from the risk assessment and inspection of the levees.  “Mostly this is the right thing to do, through levee inspections and risk assessments we have information that could potentially save lives and reduce property damage,” said Elmo Webb, Little Rock District, levee safety program manager.”

“The meetings with levee boards and local elected officials have been very helpful,” said Webb.

Elmo Web (center), Little Rock District levee safety program manager, talks levee safety with individuals associated with the Fourche Island and Woodson levees near Little Rock, Ark.
Elmo Web (center), Little Rock District levee safety program manager, talks levee safety with individuals associated with the Fourche Island and Woodson levees near Little Rock, Ark.

The meetings have helped accomplish numerous objectives including, improving sponsor engagement and understanding of levee safety activities, improve sponsor and community understanding of the benefits and flood risks associated with levee systems, promote actions to reduce and manage the associated flood risks, build a foundation for shared responsibility in developing and implementing flood risk management solutions for levee systems, and help the sponsor communicate the risk to those living behind the levees so the residents know what could happen if the levee fails, so they can make a personal decision if they want to continue to live behind the levee.

When dealing with flood risk don’t assume that the residents and business behind levees know about the status of the levee.

Levee safety risk communication meetings with levee boards and local official will continue throughout the coming months.

For more information about your levee system please contact your local levee board or elected officials.

You can also find information about the Corps levee safety program at http://www.swl.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/Levee-Safety-Information/