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Virginia Silver Jackets

The Virginia Silver Jackets team brings individuals from different agencies together to facilitate collaboration, share information, and leverage resources to identify and implement solutions to reduce flood hazards. In addition to the Army Corps of Engineers, the Virginia Team currently includes staff from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Federal Emergency Management Agency, National Weather Service, and U.S. Geological Survey. The Virginia Silver Jackets team brings individuals from different agencies and fields of expertise together to facilitate communication, share information, and provide 'one-stop' for local and state governments to obtain information and identify solutions to reduce flood hazards. The Virginia Silver Jackets Team has been active since June 2010.

Team Activities

High Water Mark Initiative - City of Richmond, VA

Virginia High Water Marks Initiative Group Photo

Photo Credit: Patrick Bloodgood
Left to Right:  Patrick Bloodgood and Michelle Hamor, USACE, Norfolk District; Mark Slauter, Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM); Jonet Prévost-White, City of Richmond; Mari Radford, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Region III; John Hay, City of Richmond (retired); Matthew Wall, VDEM; Shaun Wicklein and Russ Lotspeich, U.S. Geological Survey and Eric Seymour, National Weather Service, Wakefield, VA Weather Forecast Office.

Virginia High Water Marks Initiative Signs

Photo Credit: Patrick Bloodgood

It seemed very appropriate that a severe weather event would delay a commemoration of another severe weather event.  The dark clouds, heavy with rain, turned morning to dusk and served as a reminder that the threat of weather is as real today as it was yesterday and how we plan for it now determines our resilience tomorrow.

“The water is quick to remind us that there’s no safety in our complacency. No one thinks about flooding until it happens. When they do, it’s too late,” said Jonet Prévost-White, MS4 operations Manager, City of Richmond.

Flooded buildings in Virginia

Photo Credit: Library of Virginia

On the 44th anniversary of the historic flood resulting from precipitation from Hurricane Agnes, the City of Richmond and the Virginia Silver Jackets Team held a ceremony unveiling a high water mark sign in Pony Pasture Rapids Park.  The record of flood at the park stands 13 feet above the parking lot.  The unveiling event, supported through a FY16 Interagency Silver Jackets Project Proposal, was the result of an eight month effort and includes two additional signs installed in Great Shiplock Park and Brown’s Island.  Each location was selected because of high visibility to the public, the opportunity to use public land and the ability to mount signs to existing structures.

Brochure for the Hurricane Agnes and Sign Unveiling Ceremony

Brochure for the Hurricane Agnes and Sign Unveiling Ceremony

“This visible reminder marks the water level at that moment in time and we hope that it reminds us constantly that we need to plan for the future, we need to keep resilience in mind because the water will come again. And we must make sure we work to reduce the risks of flooding in the days ahead,” said Lt. Col. John Drew, the deputy commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District.

Hurricane Agnes was born as a disturbance over the Yucatan Peninsula on June 14, 1972. By the time the storm made landfall in Florida on June 19th, the Category 1 Hurricane was on its way to becoming one of the most devastating storms to strike the United States, spawning tornados and sinking vessels. After landfall, Hurricane Agnes quickly lost steam and was downgraded to a tropical storm and then to a tropical depression. The degraded storm was heavy laden with moisture and continued to soak the already waterlogged east coast with heavy rains up to 19 inches.  Agnes serves as a reminder that devastating storms can occur at any time and it does not take a major hurricane to cause significant damage.  Agnes was considered a tropical storm as it passed Virginia and impacted more than 60 counties and 23 cities for an estimated $222 million in damages.  By the time Agnes fell apart over Pennsylvania, the storm caused flooding and damage from Florida to New York for a total estimated loss of over $2 billion (1972 dollars) making it the costliest storm at the time.

The Virginia Silver Jackets Team is researching opportunities to collaborate on additional high water mark signs and inundation mapping.

“Signage is simple and easy. If one sign can save a life, it’s worth the effort,” said John Buturla, the deputy chief administrative officer for the city of Richmond.

For More Information Contact

Virginia Department of Emergency Management, Email

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Norfolk District, Email

Participating Agencies

Federal

  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA Region III)
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
  • National Weather Service (NWS)
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)
  • U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

State

  • Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
  • Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM)
  • Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (VDCR)

Related Links

Virginia Silver Jackets

For Homeowners

For Local Officials

For Flood Risk Management Professionals