Is your community ready?
Florida’s hurricane season begins on June 1st and ends on November 30th. Based on historical weather records dating back to the 1950s, a typical season will average 12 tropical storms with sustained winds of at least 39 miles per hour, of which 6 may turn into hurricanes with winds of 74 miles per hour or more. In addition to high winds, hurricanes and tropical storms can bring torrential rainfall. These severe storms can produce localized flooding which may temporarily inundate secondary detention areas including streets, sidewalks, driveways and lawns. This temporary flooding can be exacerbated by poorly maintained community drainage systems which may cause residential buildings to flood.
While weather predictions are becoming more sophisticated, forecasters are still unable to accurately predict where a storm will make landfall. The likelihood of flooding depends on a several variables such as rainfall volume, ground moisture and local terrain. The Lake Worth Drainage District works closely with the South Florida Water Management District and Palm Beach County Emergency Management to manage severe weather events. Communities must also do their part to help prevent residential flooding.
How can communities prepare for severe storms events?
The most important steps a community can take to prepare for a severe storm event is inspection and maintenance of its drainage infrastructure. Community drainage systems and infrastructure can include inlets, discharge control structures, connecting pipes and lakes. Proper maintenance of these drainage systems ensures unobstructed flow of stormwater and fully operational equipment. Inspection and maintenance of the drainage system is the sole responsibility of the community. However, District staff are available to assist with any questions. On-site visits can also be arranged to discuss the drainage system in detail.
Community flood preparedness includes:
- Locating and reviewing the community’s storm plan
- Identifying the location of discharge control structures, inlets and other drainage infrastructure
- Inspecting the system, clearing blockages and making needed repairs
- Testing operable discharge control structures by opening and closing the wheel mechanism
- Staying informed, and watching the District’s Getting to Know Your Drainage System video for maintenance and operation tips. Click here to watch.
The District recommends that each community establish a Drainage Committee whose role is to provide for the maintenance and operation of the drainage system. Drainage Committees may consist of board members, residents and/or property managers. All members of the Drainage Committee should register with the District. This registration process ensures the District knows who to contact and where to send important weather alerts and instructions. A simple form to assist in the registration process is available on the District’s website. Click here to download the form.
Community’s use of operable discharge control structures
Stormwater drainage in this region is provided by a three-tiered drainage system: neighborhood drainage systems, the Lake Worth Drainage District secondary canals and the South Florida Water Management District primary canals. Stormwater discharges must be coordinated for each tier at appropriate times and rates. Click here to read more about the regional three-tiered system visit the District’s website.
After a storm event, temporary street flooding is expected until the natural progression of drainage occurs. If flooding is severe and roads are impassable, communities may request to open their operable discharge control structures to increase the rate of stormwater discharge.
Authorization from the District to open structures is mandatory and is only granted for emergency situations and when District canals are at low enough elevations to accept the increased discharge from neighborhood systems. Opening an operable discharge control structure without authorization may put a community in jeopardy as canal water may back-flow into the community’s lakes. Click here to view the procedures for requesting authorization to open an operable discharge control structures.
Understanding what to expect can calm fears
Depending on the volume and duration of rainfall, it is expected that community streets, sidewalks, driveways and lawns may temporarily flood. These areas are designed to act as secondary detention areas. This flooding is temporary and will begin to recede after the event has passed.
Stay indoors during severe storm events. Do not attempt to walk in flooded areas. Flood water may be unsanitary and there may be downed power lines or other hazards that are not visible. Also, do not attempt to drive through flooded areas. Vehicles can become unstable and float in only a few inches of water. Canal banks may fail and roadways may be affected by sinkholes. The location of roads and sidewalks may not be discernible from canals and lakes. To learn more about driving through flooded areas, click here to watch the U.S. National Weather Services Turn Around Don’t Drown public service announcement.
Listen to and follow emergency management instructions via the television or radio and take appropriate actions to keep yourself, family and property safe. In most circumstances, emergency personnel will not be deployed during a severe weather event. District personnel will be monitoring weather conditions, canal elevations and coordinating efforts with other emergency agencies. Appropriate measures will be taken to provide flood relief.
Flood protection does not mean flood proof. No system, no matter how well designed, is 100% flood proof. If flood water is nearing your home, contact the District’s storm line at 561-498-5363, and press Option 2 to speak to on-call staff or to leave a message. District staff will be dispatched as soon as it is safe to deploy crews. Always call 911 for life-threatening flooding emergencies.