District issues special public notice to address flood recovery and repair activities

GALVESTON, Texas (March 31, 2016) ­– The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District issued a special public notice in response to severe flooding and other storm-related damages that occurred in communities along the Texas coast to provide guidance and a summary of exemptions and permits, which may be required for the protection and repair of existing flood damaged structures, damaged land areas and damaged fills. 

“We want those affected by the Sabine River Flood event to know that there are existing permitting tools that allow residents to rebuild structures located in navigable waters of the United States, to pre-existing conditions without having to notify and receive permission from the Regulatory Division,” said Kim Baggette, chief of the United States Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District’s Regulatory Division.

According to Baggette, a torrential rain event that occurred during the first week of March dropped more than two feet of rain in the area and unleashed record flooding along a sizable stretch of the Sabine River along the Texas/Louisiana border and rising waters to historic levels in some areas.

“We anticipate several municipalities and owners of damaged property will want to conduct repair activities in the near future and we want to provide them with information to help them navigate through the required federal processes where applicable,” said Baggette. “A Corps Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act and/or Section 404 Clean Water Act permit may be required for dredging or placing fill in waters of the United States, including rivers, lakes, streams, creeks and wetlands however, many of the permits have scopes of work and thresholds that allow you to accomplish your project without delay or waiting for an authorization.”

Baggette explained that USACE engineers are authorized to approve special processing procedures in emergency situations (unacceptable hazard to life, a significant loss of property or an immediate, unforeseen and significant economic hardship) if corrective action requiring a permit is not undertaken within a time period less than the normal time needed to process the application under standard procedures. For those activities that are not emergency protective measures (all regular permitting and regulatory processes apply.

“Communities should keep the long-term recovery requirements in mind as they move through the initial construction stages of emergency protective measures,” said Baggette. “I encourage interested persons to review the special notice in its entirety for more information about existing regulations.”

The entire Special Notice for Flood Recovery and Repair Activities in the Galveston District is available at  http://www.swg.usace.army.mil/Media/PublicNotices/tabid/2217/Article/708118/special-public-notice-flood-recovery-and-repair-activities-in-the-galveston-dis.aspx. For more information regarding emergency authorizations, click on Emergency Procedures at http://www.swg.usace.army.mil/BusinessWithUs/Regulatory/Permits.aspx. For more news and information, visit www.swg.usace.army.mil. Find us on Facebook www.facebook.com/GalvestonDistrict or follow us on Twitter www.twitter.com/USACEgalveston.

USACE Galveston District Spotlight on Byron Williams

GALVESTON, Texas (March 31, 2016) – Many of us are lucky to find one career field for which we feel a passion. However, USACE Galveston District nominee for Project Manager of the Year Byron Williams, PMP, has been fortunate enough to find two. The first, engineering, was a love that began at his father’s knee.

“He was an old school draftsman, so I was used to being surrounded by engineers as a kid when visiting his office. I even did an internship there my freshman year before declaring a major,” says Williams.

The decision to choose an engineering course of study proved to be difficult for Williams, who also contemplated becoming a high school math teacher.

“It was a tough decision as I love working with kids,” said Williams.

His passion for mentoring didn’t fall by the wayside. Shortly after finishing his own studies, Williams worked to combine his love of engineering and mentoring students at Ball High School and Reed Academy for Engineering.

Williams explained that he experienced situations in his youth where positive guidance would have gone a long way.

“I saw so many people with so few opportunities. When opportunities did occur, so many incorrect choices were made. I believe the choices people made would have been different if there would have been a voice of reason or an example to follow, as I had with my parents. If by mentoring and tutoring I can influence one kid to make better life choices, I get ecstatic.”

Williams brought his passion for mentoring into the workplace when he accepted an additional position that includes supervisory responsibility – a role that added to his responsibilities of managing high priority deep draft navigation projects including the Houston Ship Channel, Sabine Neches Waterway and Brownsville Island Harbor Channel, and a career move that caught the eye of district senior leadership.

Deputy District Engineer for Programs and Project Management Dr. Edmond Russo, USACE Galveston District, nominated Williams for the Program Manager of the Year award in part for his willingness to accept this role.

“He is now the front line supervisor for seven project managers directly leading over half of the district’s Civil Works Program,” said Russo. “Mr. Williams accepted this position, without additional compensation, so that he could devote more time to mentoring and developing senior project managers alike.”

According to Russo, the USACE Galveston District remains focused on building strength in its workforce through balancing technical expertise with management and leadership skills to support the Corps’ current and future missions and Williams’ selection is a testament to this practice.

“I am always looking for ways to advance my career within my comfort zone,” said Williams. “We are going through changes in the way we do business. My ability to structure how we respond and react to that change makes my job easier as well as the other project managers. So it wasn’t about compensation, it was about assisting the project management branch to be the best it could be. The compensation will take care of itself.”

A native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Williams earned a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Southern University and A&M College, is an adjunct instructor of project management at ITT Institute of Technology and serves as the USACE Galveston District’s Crisis Action Team Leader, which was called to action during hurricanes Ike and Rita. He lives in Houston with his wife and two children.