Category Archives: Operational Priorities

Regional priorities within the Southwestern Division

Tulsa District reminds visitors to take care around water

The Tulsa District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been reminding visitors to be careful in and around the water.

Though many reservoirs remain above normal elevation, Lake Office staff and volunteers are working hard to make repairs to open make recreation available as quickly and safely as possible.

“We are encouraging people to come out to the lakes and enjoy the nice weather but as we reduce the lake levels, we want to remind everyone to be conscientious and cautious,” said Steve Nolen, chief of Natural Resources for the Tulsa District. “With so much flooding, many lakes still have debris and submerged, or partially submerged, structures and vegetation that present a hazard to navigation.”

Whether boating, swimming or fishing from the banks, visitors should to take proper precautions by wearing well-fitting, U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets. Visitors should also hydrate with water or sports drinks and avoid drinking alcoholic beverages while boating.

“Alcohol and boating don’t mix,” said Abby Gaydusek, recreation specialist at the Tulsa District. “Exposure to the sun and summer temperatures increases the effects of alcohol. Boating while intoxicated threatens others’ lives and it’s illegal. ” After nearly two months of rain-induced recreation limits, many people will be ready to take advantage of nice weather and a long weekend and Ken Weiner, chief ranger at the Lake Tenkiller Project Office, is advising visitors to be careful in the reservoirs and the channels below the dam.

“When we are releasing water from the dam the currents are swift and people need to be really careful when wading or boating below the dam,” Weiner said. “The currents are stronger than they look. Parents should keep an eye on their children and make sure they are wearing life jackets.”

Travis Miller, lead ranger, at the Keystone Lake project office, drives the working barge around Keystone Lake, before the Independence Day weekend. Rangers and Tulsa District staff have spent several weeks cleaning up debris following the May rains and Tropical Depression Bill. Rangers reminded visitors to recreation areas to be especially careful as recreation areas reopened.
Travis Miller, lead ranger, at the Keystone Lake project office, drives the working barge around Keystone Lake, before the Independence Day weekend. Rangers and Tulsa District staff have spent several weeks cleaning up debris following the May rains and Tropical Depression Bill. Rangers reminded visitors to recreation areas to be especially careful as recreation areas reopened.
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Eric Bonnell a ranger from the Keystone Lake project office, surveys the shoreline around Keystone Lake before the July Fourth Holiday weekend. Rangers and Tulsa District staff have spent several weeks cleaning up debris following the May rains and Tropical Depression Bill. Rangers reminded visitors to recreation areas to be especially careful as recreation areas reopened.

Fort Worth District team responds to historic rainfall

Lt. Col. Clay Morgan, Deputy Commander, Fort Worth District.
Lt. Col. Clay Morgan, Deputy Commander, Fort Worth District.

Lt. Col. Clay Morgan
Deputy Commander,
Fort Worth District

 

Team Fort Worth, for every organization there are key events and milestones that define and reinforce its reputation and the character of its people. In May 2015, the Fort Worth District withstood such an event – the Texas Spring Flood 2015.

Many words have been used to describe that event but one that has consistently and accurately been used is ‘historic.’ Forecasts in early May indicated that the rainfall would be significant but this proved to be an understatement.

As the severe rainfall hit in mid-May, SWF immediately stood-up our Emergency Operations Center to execute all facets of emergency flood fight operations.

The SWF Emergency Operations Center was the nucleus of those operations with our Operations Division taking the lead in the field/onsite at our numerous impacted lakes.

The EOC started off on twelve hour shifts but at the height of the flood event went into round the clock operations, with representatives from our district and other USACE district offices working as a cohesive team to meet numerous requirements – operational and administrative in support of flood fight operations.

Some of you may not be familiar with our flood risk management terminology, but in its simplest terms, flood surcharge pool is the area above the flood pool and to the top of the structure.

As recently as the third week in June, twenty-three of our twenty-five Fort Worth District multi-purpose lakes, were in flood pool. Surcharge releases were made at Bardwell, Benbrook, Grapevine, Joe Pool, Lavon, Lewisville, Navarro Mills, Ray Roberts, Somerville, Sam Rayburn and Town Bluff lakes.

Four of our lakes reached record-high pool elevations as a result of Spring Flood 2015: Joe Pool – 538 ft., Lewisville – 537 ft., Navarro Mills – 442.6 ft. and Bardwell – 441 ft.

It is the character of Team Fort Worth that allowed us to:

  • Conduct increased surveillance of our reservoir projects to monitor conditions, read instrumentation and report areas of distress. This effort included 24 hour surveillance of several lake projects performed by Operations and Engineering and Construction Division personnel from within SWF, SWD, and across USACE
  • Provide round the clock support by our Water Management Section to state, county, and local Emergency Management partners at the State of Texas with flood inundation maps and shape files for rivers below our USACE projects; technical assistance on flood fight measures and provision of flood fight materials
  • Coordinate and execute the delivery and distribution of over 169,500 small sandbags, 1,100 Super Sandbags, and HESCOs by our Logistics Office and Operations Division
  • Coordinate and execute action plans and expedited repairs at lakes by our E&C, Operations, and Contracting Divisions
  • Provide technical assistance to help stabilize conditions at Padera Dam near Midthlothian, TX and technical assistance on a collapsed bridge on the Blanco River by our Dam Safety Team
  • Embedded in the Texas Operations Center in Austin to provide instant access to State resources and coordination
  • Unprecedented coordination and work with our local, state and other federal agencies partners
  • Record-breaking local, regional, national and international balanced and positive media coverage all coordinated by the SWF Public Affairs Team with 170 print and broadcast interviews conducted; over 225 media and public inquiries responded to and three major press conferences coordinated and executed

These achievements were outstanding! In the months ahead, we will have significant challenges ahead as we assess and repair dams, levees, and parks that were damaged during the floods.

Additionally, due to storm waters captured from the flood event in May and June, SWF’s recreation mission for our twenty-five lakes has been greatly impacted. In some of our lakes, it will take at least two months or more for lake levels to return to normal conservation pool levels, without any significant rainfall.

We are definitely aware of the inconvenience, as well as some economic impacts, this will have on the communities in and around our lakes in terms of less recreational opportunity over the next few months. However, flood damage reduction and public safety must and will always be our priority and is the primary reason for our multi-purpose reservoirs. Our partners, and the public, understand this and we appreciate their patience as we gradually assess, repair and ready all of our facilities to reopen as the safe recreation areas that they were prior to Spring Flood 2015.

In the coming months, my plan is to ensure that all the outstanding work before, during and after the flood event by our numerous SWF team members is formally recognized.

As the Acting Commander, I want to thank Team Fort Worth and all our many partners for a job well done and look forward to us successfully completing the recovery phase of this mission.

As we enter that recovery phase, we can also proudly welcome our new Fort Worth District Commander, Col. Calvin Hudson, his spouse Mrs. Glenda Hudson and their daughter Madison. Col. Hudson will assume command on August 14 and I look forward to celebrating that event with all of Team Fort Worth.