Category Archives: Locations

District, local emergency management professionals prepare for weather events table-top exercises

Jeff Mahaffey, deputy chief, Emergency Management, facilitates a table-top exercise with emergency managers, partners and stakeholders on a simulated flood event involving the Town Bluff Dam and Sam Rayburn Reservoir.
Jeff Mahaffey, deputy chief, Emergency Management, facilitates a table-top exercise with emergency managers, partners and stakeholders on a simulated flood event involving the Town Bluff Dam and Sam Rayburn Reservoir.
Sarvi Ashraf, Dam Safety Program Manager gives an overview of Stillhouse Hollow Dam prior to facilitating a table-top exercise with local emergency managers, partners and stakeholders.
Sarvi Ashraf, Dam Safety Program Manager gives an overview of Stillhouse Hollow Dam prior to facilitating a table-top exercise with local emergency managers, partners and stakeholders.

Story and photos by Edward Rivera
Fort Worth District Public Affairs

Throughout the summer, Fort Worth District’s Emergency Management Office team members have been visiting many lake projects hosting exercises to foster understanding and communication between our decision making partners during significant weather events.

The table-top exercises allow the District to use their Emergency Action Plans which identify risk and potential hazards, ensure public understanding via local and state emergency management entities of benefits and risk of our flood risk mitigation projects.

“The EAP is an extremely important, and formal, document we use to identify and communicate risk to our downstream emergency management partners,” said Jeff Mahaffey, deputy chief, Emergency Management. “We focus on response planning and hazard mitigation to ultimately save lives and protect property.”

In addition to exercising the individual projects EAPs, the annual meetings allow for emergency management and water supply partners, first responders and other agencies and entities affected by flooding to communicate with each other while seeing how their response plans will interact.

Bart Dearborn, manager, Sam Rayburn Lake Project Office looks over inundation maps with (left) Kimpton Cooper, district ranger, U.S. Forest Service for the Angelina and Sabine National Forests and Randy Stanton with stakeholder, Entergy Texas.
Bart Dearborn, manager, Sam Rayburn Lake Project Office looks over inundation maps with (left) Kimpton Cooper, district ranger, U.S. Forest Service for the Angelina and Sabine National Forests and Randy Stanton with stakeholder, Entergy Texas.

“The exercises also afford us the opportunity to explain U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operations during significant weather events,” said Mahaffey. “We also examine the decision making process on how we capture and retain flood waters and make project releases based on downstream channel capacity. And if signs of project distress exist, how we and our partners responds.”

The biggest take away from the exercises is ensuring the Corps educates and communicates with all affected partners and stakeholders know the how and why the multipurpose projects exist in their communities. “It is or great importance everyone involved understand the benefits, risks, and consequences of our project sites, and how to respond to an emergency situation,” said Mahaffey.

Tom Webb, superintendent, Piney Woods Hydropower Business Line Manager said, the exercise was an excellent opportunity to communicate and collaborate with all stakeholders and downstream city and county governments on the importance of having emergency action plans in place. “For some, this exercise was an eye-opener for them and they were really grateful that we had this exercise,” said Webb.

Exercises like these hosted by the District and its partners is a great opportunity for all involved to get to know each other and develop working relationships prior to any event taking place.

Ricky Raymond, operations project manager, Piney Woods Regional Office talks with Jasper, Texas Mayor Randy Sayers during a break from the exercise.
Ricky Raymond, operations project manager, Piney Woods Regional Office talks with Jasper, Texas Mayor Randy Sayers during a break from the exercise.

“The exercise presented a great opportunity to meet with local emergency managers‎ and stake holders to discuss response and needs during a flood related incident in our region,” said Bart Dearborn, Sam Rayburn Lake manager. “The recent flooding in our region over the last two years has demonstrated a need for this type of exercise and for our preparedness.”

 


Whitney native receives District EEO Employee of the Year

Justyss Esquivel, Natural Resource Specialist for the Fort Worth District enjoys a day at Whitney Lake fishing with friends.
Justyss Esquivel, Natural Resource Specialist for the Fort Worth District enjoys a day at Whitney Lake fishing with friends.
Justyss Esquivel, Natural Resource Specialist, Fort Worth District and Bobber the Water Safety Dog attend a water safety event during a P.E. class June 30 at Whitney Middle School in Whitney, Texas.
Justyss Esquivel, Natural Resource Specialist, Fort Worth District and Bobber the Water Safety Dog attend a water safety event during a P.E. class June 30 at Whitney Middle School in Whitney, Texas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Story by Denisha Braxton
Fort Worth District Public Affairs Office

Justyss Esquivel a Whitney, Texas native, was recognized as the 2016 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Fort Worth District Equal Employment Opportunity Employee of the Year.

Esquivel, a Natural Resource Specialist for the District was recognized for her efforts mentoring contract gate attendants, coordinating water safety outreach events, and seeking training on new ways to foster a diverse and inclusive work environment throughout the Whitney Lake Project Office and Three Rivers Regional Office.

“I want to do the best I can in this position. I intend to have my accomplishments mean something, to make a positive impact on someone’s life. I was in disbelief that someone would think so highly of me to even nominate me for the award. It made me appreciative of the amazing people I work with every day,” said Esquivel.

Esquivel graduated from Stephen F. Austin University in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Forestry, with a minor in Biology. Upon graduation, she began her career with the Fort Worth District performing various duties at the Project Office that were crucial to the operation of parks, day use areas and wildlife management.

Currently, Esquivel is working on obtaining Educational Display Permits from Texas Parks and Wildlife and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. These permits will allow District team members to use salvaged animal carcasses as educational displays to help promote the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics initiative.

“Justyss is a valuable team member at Whitney Lake and within the Three Rivers Region. Whether being a part of a Project Delivery Team or participating in a group meeting, she always has a positive attitude and encourages others,” said Abraham Phillips, lake manager, Fort Worth District Whitney and Aquilla Lakes.

“When dealing with customers, she takes an optimistic approach and handles each situation with respect. She represents all aspects of the Army Values and exemplifies a positive organizational image throughout all of her duties as a natural resource specialist,” added Phillips.

Working just two years for the Corps of Engineers, Esquivel has been a champion for the local diverse water safety community. From school programs to playing a vital role in local drowning prevention coalitions, few opportunities are missed by Esquivel. This year alone, she has made more than 2,000 direct water safety contacts and 1,500 STEM contacts. Additionally, Esquivel maintains the life jacket loaner boards at Whitney Lake, which offer a Spanish translation for customers.

“The water safety program is what I love most about this job. I hope the water safety topics and scenarios I describe to people help them in some way, either they avoid a dangerous situation or they are able to help someone in need,” she said.

When she’s not reading, practicing archery or spending time with family, Esquivel takes time to share her experiences with students in her hometown and encourages them to do well in school. With her knowledge and passion for STEM, she educates students on the numerous career opportunities with the Corps.

“Our park rangers are the face of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and are critical to the Fort Worth District’s mission in ensuring public safety. Justyss receiving this significant award is a great accomplishment, not only for all of her outstanding work and efforts, but because she is a role model for her colleagues, her community and the future generation,” said Lt. Col. Clay Morgan, deputy commander, Fort Worth District.