The Atlantic is Expected to Have Another Active Hurricane Season. Here’s How Municipalities Can Prepare.
DURATION 3 minute read
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting another above-average hurricane season for the Atlantic. Forecasters predict a range of 14 to 21 named storms – 6 to 10 of which could become hurricanes, including 3 to 6 major hurricanes.
There are many steps municipalities can take in advance of hurricane season to prepare their infrastructure and communities for the risks that hurricanes bring. Our team worked with water districts across Texas through multiple hurricanes and tropical storms. Though every water system is unique, we developed a broad hurricane preparedness plan that helped our clients in the past keep their communities safe. We hope these steps help enable you and your municipality to prepare for another active hurricane season:
- Review your emergency response plan and ensure the personnel contacts are up-to-date and contact information is available 24/7.
- Review and update your emergency communications plan. If you don’t have one, prepare one.
- Review and update GIS. If you don’t have one, consider creating one.
- Contact neighboring water systems or regional system participants and identify ways to share resources. Also, consider joint response and coordination efforts to prevent water pressure loss, conserve fuel for auxiliary power, and minimize interruptions of service.
- Track recovery expenses potentially eligible for federal reimbursement.
- Establish a centralized base of operations with first aid supplies, batteries, flashlights, bottled water, and cell phones or other wireless communication devices. Pre-arrange to purchase materials and supplies, as needed.
- Discuss the plan with your team to ensure roles are understood and responsibilities are defined.
Emergency Power & Supplies
- Test all backup lights, generators, automatic transfer switches, and auxiliary drives.
- If necessary, review and renew any interconnect agreements for emergency and wholesale water supplies. Consider extreme solutions, including trucking in purchased water from another potable water supply.
- Make arrangements with your electric utility and retail electric provider to ensure your facilities are on the critical power supply list.
- Notify the local power utility to be prepared to restore power to the water system as a priority customer.
- Confirm plants are prepared to operate on normal or auxiliary power.
- Run extended power outage simulations to verify that auxiliary power systems are operable under required loads and temperatures and/or perform a load bank test.
- Test and clean fuel reserves to keep fuel supplies fresh.
- Perform preventative maintenance on auxiliary power systems per manufacturer specifications and consider proactive maintenance of filters, batteries, etc.
- Consider using an emergency alert system (text, email, voice messaging, webpage, or social media) for communicating directly and efficiently with your customers.
- Have the following notices prepared and available:
- “Boil Water Notice” including a multilingual translation.
- “Rescinding Boil Water Notice,” including a multilingual translation.
- “Emergency Disinfection of Drinking Water” guidelines.
- “Shelter-In-Place” guidelines.
- Exercise water wells and confirm sensors and autodialers are working properly.
- Complete any ongoing water plant improvements and rehabilitation projects, if possible. If not possible, consult with your project teams to formulate contingency plans.
- Review water distribution and sanitary sewer collection maps to ensure they are up-to-date and accurately reflected in GIS or easily accessible.
- Run diagnostic tests on Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA).
- Confirm water plant boundary fences are structurally sound and remove debris or trees/limbs that are at risk of damaging equipment in the event of high winds.
These preparedness steps are just a few baseline recommendations for an actionable emergency preparedness plan (EPP) and are a great starting point to help ensure your water system is prepared for hurricane season. Contact our team to learn more! We will work with you to help create a comprehensive EPP that addresses the risks specific to your system.