Washington, D.C. — A District of Columbia interagency team that manages flood risks, known as the DC Silver Jackets, was recognized as state team of the year during a national workshop in St. Louis, March 2, 2017.
The DC Silver Jackets leverages resources to identify and implement comprehensive, resilient, and sustainable solutions to reduce flood risks around the flood-prone District. There are active Silver Jackets teams in 47 states, plus the District, and the program is sponsored by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps).
“The Silver Jackets State Team of the Year Award recognizes an outstanding team, as voted on by their peers from other state teams, that exemplifies the goal of effective flood risk management within the context of shared responsibility and that has demonstrated significant accomplishments in flood risk management throughout the preceding year,” said Jeff Jensen, Corps, National Flood Risk Management Program deputy director, during the presentation of the award at the national Silver Jackets Workshop.
Some of the DC Silver Jackets accomplishments highlighted during the ceremony include organization of the inaugural DC Flood Summit that brought together more than 150 experts; creation of a Flood Inundation Mapping tool, which consists of real-time digital maps that display the potential depth and extent of flooding in the DC area based on impending storms; coordination of an interagency effort to certify and accredit the Potomac Park Levee System following the completion of the 17th Street Closure structure; and an award of funding to conduct a Flood Risk Management Study for vulnerable neighborhoods along Watts Branch.
“The award seeks to recognize teams that optimize the use of federal resources and leverage state investments, prevent duplication of work across agencies, and produce results that save lives and reduce damages,” said Jensen.
While the team does not actually wear silver jackets, the name serves as a symbolic reference to the unification of many agencies managing flood risks before, during and after a flood, as agencies typically wear their own various colored jackets during a disaster response.
The Corps, Baltimore District; National Park Service (NPS); and DC Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) jointly lead the DC Silver Jackets. Other team members include the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Capital Planning Commission, DC Office of Planning, DC Water and Sewer Authority, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, the University of Maryland, and Georgetown University, among many more.
“The DC Silver Jackets is an inclusive team built on a strong organizational foundation with defined common goals,” said Stacey Underwood, Corps, Baltimore District, Silver Jackets Program coordinator. “Our diverse membership from federal and regional agencies to academia brings a breadth of perspective and expertise to share.”
The team meets quarterly and is divided into task groups that focus on flood-inundation mapping, flood emergency planning, interior flooding, levee certification and accreditation, and flood-risk communication and outreach.
“As you may realize, the District of Columbia is a very unique city,” said Jensen.
The District is considered a three-way street for flooding. Not only is it located next to two major rivers that can flood, the Potomac and Anacostia, it is susceptible to coastal storm surge and interior flooding when storm drains are overwhelmed. There are also more than the typical number of agencies involved in flood risk management, including multiple levels of government and multiple branches of the military.
“We are dedicated to maintaining strong working relationships within the team and being both reflective and forward thinking about our work together,” said Phetmano Phannavong, DOEE, DC floodplain manager. “We encourage our members to be creative and to think outside the box when it comes to managing flooding, and we are always looking for new, innovative partnerships.”
In 2017, the team will continue work on the Watts Branch Flood Risk Management Study, as well as focus on identifying, gathering data on, and providing solutions to interior flooding challenges in the District.
“I am proud of the significant accomplishments this team has made,” said Mark Baker, NPS, Dam and Levee Safety officer. “We always say that reducing flood risks is a shared responsibility, and this team exemplifies that statement. We are excited for what we will take on next to help save lives and reduce damages from flooding in the District.”
Silver Jackets teams have an opportunity to annually submit proposals to receive federal funding for projects that will help reduce flood risk. The funds come from the Corps Floodplain Management Services program and are prioritized by necessity; however, projects must also leverage funds from other agencies.
For more information on the DC Silver Jackets, visit: http://silverjackets.nfrmp.us/State-Teams/Washington-DC.