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Emergency Operations Center

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Emergency Operations

The mission of Emergency Operations is to provide assistance, within its authorities, when natural disasters or other emergencies occur.

Emergency preparedness and response is primarily a state and local responsibility. However, in instances when the nature of the disaster exceeds the capabilities of state and local interests, the Corps of Engineers may provide help to save human life, prevent immediate human suffering or mitigate property damage. The Corps gives emergency assistance top priority and provides immediate response using every resource and expedited procedure available. Assistance is limited to the preservation of life and protection of residential and commercial developments, to include public and private facilities that provide public services.

Emergency Management provides engineering services to respond to national and natural disasters to minimize damages and help in recovery efforts. Public Law 84-99 enables the Corps to assist state and local authorities in flood fight activities and cost share in the repair of flood protection structures. Public Law 93-288 authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency to task the Corps with disaster recovery missions under the Federal Response Plan.

 

Emergency Management Brochure

Important Emergency Information

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Preparation:

Preparing to undertake a flood fighting event requires prior planning and an understanding of basic flood fighting techniques. Each flood event is different, but is similar to past events. Time, weather conditions, river stages/conditions, resources, hours of darkness, and lack of trained personnel will all impact your flood fighting effort.

The KEYS to every flood fighting effort include:

·         Development of a site specific plan that outlines the WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, and HOW of flood fighting.

·         Key personnel training in the "ART" of flood fighting.

·         Early warning, recognition, and identification of a flood event.

·         Command, control, and communications within you flood fighting team.

·         Traffic control and traffic patterns to and from the work site(s).

·         Sandbag filling operations should be staged away from the work site but close enough to reduce transportation requirements and cycle times.

 

Concept of Operations:

 

Primary and Alternate Assembly Areas:

·         Assembly area should have adequate parking.

·         Volunteers should report to a designated assembly area.

·         Request volunteers bring their own flash light, work gloves, rain gear, shovel, and snack.

·         Alternate assembly area should also be identified.

·         Sign in roster for volunteers - personnel accountability (name, home phone number, address, work group assignment).

·         Recommend that volunteers be transported from assembly areas to staging areas.

 

Staging Areas:

  • As close to flood fight location as possible, but must also have good access and egress and good trafficability.
  • Recommend that 4 X 4 pick-up trucks be used to transport filled sandbags.

 

Site layout of staging area:

·         sandbag filling

·         carrying and loading

·         materials stockpile

·         rest/break area

·         first aid area

 

 

Work Site:

Plan the Work Site: The work site is where the sandbagging operations occur. The traffic pattern again is extremely important and must be will planned. It is recommended that if conditions permit that one way traffic patterns be established. This is extremely important on the levee system. Remember, the higher the sandbag levee the wider the base will be. All Federal levee systems within the Kansas City District were constructed with a 10 foot levee crown. Consequently, this may require backing the vehicle up or down stream to the laying party.

 

Rules of Thumb: It is extremely important that the work site is well supervised by a trained individual. Labor and resource requirement can be decreased and efficiency increased by following some simple "rules of thumb":

 

·         Construct on a firm foundation

·         Sandbags should be filled 1/2 to 2/3 full

·         Sandbags should not be tied, but folded

·         Always have the butt of the bag facing up stream

·         Each bag should be placed with 1/3 overlap and be well mauled into place

 

Command & Control at the Work Site: How do you control a flood fighting effort? First someone has to be in charge of the operation. Since coordination between many agencies is a must, it is recommended that an Emergency Operations Center be established and operated 24 hours daily until the emergency is over. When operating the EOC, consider the following:

·         Radio and telephone communications systems

·         Television and/or radio monitor weather and river forecasts.

·         Emergency generator in case of power outages

·         Administrative supplies

·         Levee Operations and Maintenance Manuals

·         State, County, and local maps

·         Flash lights, telephone books, emergency phone rosters

·         Listing of local contractors, Red Cross, Salvation Army, hospitals, polices, State/County Emergency Operations center, etc.

 

Common Misconceptions In Flood Fighting: The efficiency of undertaking a flood fight can be increased by avoiding some of the common mistakes and misunderstanding about the process. Many people think that sandbagging is a mindless endeavor; just fill the bags and throw them in place. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. Sandbagging operation is an "art" that requires understanding and thought. Remember time, weather conditions, hours of darkness, and limited resources are your enemy.

 

Plan Development: In the development of your flood fighting plans, you must consider the characteristics of the adjacent river or stream. Flashing streams and rivers require rapid response, while moderately rising streams and rivers allow greater reaction and warning time. Therefore, it is essential that you flood fighting plans are based on the available "reaction time".

 

Backwater
Water that is held back or stops moving due to currents or physical constriction such as a dam.

Breach
A break in a levee. The most frequent form of levee failure is a breach. A levee breach is when part of the levee actually breaks away, leaving a large opening for water to flood the land protected by the levee. A breach can be a sudden or gradual failure that is caused either by surface erosion or by a subsurface failure of the levee.

Bubbling
Air or another type of gas escaping the water.

Sand Boils
Levee breaches are often accompanied by boils or sand boils. A sand boil occurs when the upward pressure of water flowing through soil pores under the levee (underseepage) exceeds the downward pressure from the weight of the soil above it. The underseepage resurfaces on the landside, in the form of a volcano-like cone of sand. Boils signal a condition of incipient instability which may lead to erosion of the levee toe or foundation or result in sinking of the levee into the liquefied foundation below.

Underseepage
Movement of water beneath a levee—the upward pressure of water flowing through soil pores under the levee.

Overtopping
Levee overtopping can be caused when flood waters simply exceed the lowest crest of the levee system or if high winds begin to generate significant swells in the ocean or river water to bring waves crashing over the levee. Overtopping can lead to significant landside erosion of the levee or even be the mechanism for complete breach.

Crest
The highest river stage passing any given location.

Freeboard
The distance between the water surface and the top of the levee

Freeboard Gage
A gage which measures the distance between the water surface and the top of the levee.

Sinkhole
A hole in the ground surface which occurs when material below the surface is removed by water.

Cubic Feet Per Second
As the term implies, this is a common unit of flow measurement based on the number of cubic feet (12”X12”X12”) of water passing by a point in a second. It is abbreviated “cfs.” A flow rate of one cfs is equivalent to 449 gallons per minute.

River Stage
A site-specific measurement of river-level referenced as the height in feet above a designated zero reference point, called the gauge zero, at the site. The zero reference point is sometimes, but not always, chosen as the elevation of the river bottom. Normally, stage values are always positive. Drought conditions could cause the river level to fall below gauge zero, and the stage reading at that time would be negative. Since each gauge was established independently at each location, the stage reading is good for that location only and cannot be compared to other locations. For example, a stage of 30 feet at Fargo, N.D., cannot be compared to a stage of 30 feet at Grand Forks, N.D. The only way direct comparisons between two gauges can be made is by converting river stage to elevation by adding the stage to the gauge zero elevation.

Flood Stage
The National Weather Service, based on the desires of the local community, establishes the “flood stage” gauge height for any given community. The flood stage gauge height is often the stage where damages begin to occur. Many communities desire to use the flood stage gauge height as an early warning alert, prior to the onset of significant damages. Significant damages may not occur until river levels are several feet above flood stage. Additionally, conditions along some rivers may have changed since the gauge and flood stages were established and reaching the flood stage may or may not result in actual flooding. Again, stages are site-specific, so feet above flood stage at one location can’t be compared to another.

Acre Feet
A measure of volume typically used to describe how much water is in a reservoir or how much storage capacity is available. An acre-foot of water is the equivalent of a volume of water that is one-foot deep, covering an area of one acre. An acre has an area of 43,560 square feet. Therefore, an acre-foot of water contains 43,560 cubic feet of water. A flow of one cubic foot per second equals a volume of approximately two acre feet every 24
hours.

Reservoir Inflow
A measure of how much water (usually in cfs) is entering a reservoir. Inflow is calculated by using a reservoir storage-inflow-outflow formula, where inflow equals outflow plus the change in storage. The Corps’ water control section in Kansas City uses the known outflow (discharge from the dam) and the known increase or decrease in the amount of water stored in the reservoir (based on changes in pool elevation) to calculate the inflow.
Often, a gauge upstream of the reservoir will provide baseline data on inflow. However, the upstream gauge will not include smaller tributaries and runoff from the land near the reservoir or rain falling directly on the reservoir surface. Actual measurements of upstream flows serve to verify the validity of calculated reservoir inflow.