NORFOLK, Va. – Ahead of Hurricane Joaquin, the Norfolk District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is taking the following measures to protect the health and safety of Virginians, and prevent flooding and damage at its military and civil work project sites throughout the commonwealth.
In conjunction with Governor Terry McAuliffe’s declaration of a state of emergency for the commonwealth of Virginia, Norfolk District has activated its Emergency Operations Center in Richmond to coordinate with federal and commonwealth officials on pre- and post-storm activities.
Operations and Navigation
The Norfolk District Survey and Navigation team remains on-call throughout the week to respond to navigation and debris removal requirements.
In anticipation of heavy rain and potential flooding conditions, the district has opened wicket gates at Lake Drummond within the Dismal Swamp. The lake drains into an adjacent “feeder” ditch and subsequently into the Dismal Swamp Canal in Chesapeake. The lake’s water level has been lowered to 4 feet, 9 inches from its normal level of 5 feet, 4 inches. This will better enable the lake to accept larger quantities of rainwater, lessening the chances of flooding. Spillways along the canal will further enable this water from Lake Drummond to be distributed into area tributaries.
District hydrologists are continuously monitoring weather conditions that impact Gathright Dam and Lake Moomaw near Covington, Virginia. The lake is currently 8.9 feet below the full conservation lake level of 1582 feet above sea level. This provides an additional 25 percent more flood control capacity than normal. The release from the dam is currently 205 cubic feet per second and will be reduced to its minimum level of 150 cfs if conditions require a reduction.
Norfolk District’s Operations Branch is communicating with U.S Coast Guard to identify potential port issues associated with the storm.
Equipment is secured at the Craney Island Dredged Material Management Area in Portsmouth, Va. and the district will monitor shoreline erosion.
The following Corps vessels are moored at the Great Bridge facility in Chesapeake: the Harrell, Adams II, Lynnhaven, Elizabeth, and the ND-6 and Mobjack. The NOAA research vessel Sand Tiger is also moored at the Great Bridge facility.
The Great Bridge Locks are currently closed due to high water. They will remain closed for 3-4 hours during high tide.
Military Project Sites
Resident engineers are assessing various project sites and working with contractors to make construction areas safe from flying debris and damage.
The district is also ready to provide disaster recovery support to Army installations within their military construction boundaries.
Civil Works Project Sites
For ongoing construction, project managers and resident engineers are working to identify project vulnerabilities and to secure project sites.
Ahead of the storm, action officers are contacting completed civil works sites to determine the current status of the site and complete a pre-storm checklist.
Project managers are communicating with project sponsors local points of contact for storm damage reduction projects, and completing pre-storm inspection checklists for areas that include the Norfolk floodwall, Sandbridge beach, Tangier Island and the Richmond floodwall.
Virginia Beach Hurricane Protection Beach Re-nourishment project
The Norfolk District, in partnership with the City of Virginia Beach, completed a beach renourishment project in 2013 that widened the buffer between storm surge and the city’s homes, businesses, and tourist attractions.
The project added more than 1.4 million cubic yards of sand along the city’s public beachfront from 17th to 70th streets. It also marked the first beach renourishment cycle since the initial construction of the Virginia Beach Erosion Control and Hurricane Protection Project, which includes the boardwalk, in 2001.
The Norfolk District project teams will assess the Virginia Beach Hurricane Protection Beach Re-nourishment project before the storm, and will do a post-storm assessment to document any impacts to the system.
The Virginia Beach Hurricane Protection System reduces the risk of damage and loss of life due to coastal storms, however, these risks can never completely be eliminated. It is essential that every resident in Hampton Roads prepares for storm events by following evacuation orders, having an emergency plan and supply kit in place, and knowing their vulnerability to storm surge flooding.
Norfolk District will continue to assess and execute its emergency support mission in the Commonwealth of Virginia throughout the duration of Hurricane Joaquin.