The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and South Florida Water Management District gave an update post-Hurricane Dorian on their response.
With the threat of looming systems in the Atlantic Ocean, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the South Florida Water Management District both expressed confidence in their abilities to respond to new storms after dealing with the unpredictability of Hurricane Dorian.
“There’s no really way to tell the future. But I will say at this stage, we are more prepared than ever to be able to handle anything coming off the Atlantic,” said Col. Andrew Kelly, district commander for the Corps’ Jacksonville District, in a press conference Friday.
“The way Dorian responded — the length of time it took to get here, the agility that we demonstrated as it was going left one way, it was going right the next way — we kept maneuvering assets, we kept talking ... and we moved very quickly in our plans to adjust. We’re about as prepared as we can be,” he added.
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Because Dorian hadn’t dropped the anticipated amount of rain — officials said the district averaged one inch of rain during the storm — no releases east and west of Lake Okeechobee are expected this week. Water from the lake will be released at 2,000 cubic feet per second south of the lake. Local basin runoff from rain, not from Lake Okeechobee, will flow into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers.
Officials say they will reassess the need for releases on a weekly basis, with the ultimate goal of preventing harmful releases, said South Water Management District Executive Director Drew Barlett.
The lake’s water level sat at 13.96 feet as of Thursday. Ideal levels are between 12.5 feet and 15.5 feet.
Although the Herbert Hoover Dike is still under construction, Kelly noted that it’s “getting better every day.” The construction is expected to be completed by 2022.
“The Atlantic is very, very active right now with multiple depressions and potential [storms] going forward,” Kelly said. “My primary concern is the next one coming.”