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Washington, DC Silver Jackets

The D.C. Silver Jackets is an interagency team comprised of members from federal, District of Columbia and regional agencies, as well as academia. This team leverages resources to identify and implement comprehensive, resilient, and sustainable solutions to reduce flood risk around the District and to assist local communities. Flood risk management is critical in the District, as there are three types of flooding that can impact low areas of the city: river; coastal storm surge; and interior.

The District formalized its Silver Jackets team in 2014 through an interagency Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) (pdf 1.1 MB) currently signed by 13 federal and District agencies. However, the full team extends well beyond these agencies. The D.C. Silver Jackets team first began meeting in April of 2012 as the Potomac River Flood Coordination Group.  The Department of Energy and Environment is the lead agency for the District. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District and the National Park Service jointly lead the federal agencies. 

The D.C. Silver Jackets has established five task groups: Development of Flood Inundation Mapping/Stream Gauges; Flood Emergency Planning; Interior Drainage Flooding; Levee Certification and Accreditation; and Flood Risk Communication. Each task group has respective responsibilities that will aid in fulfilling the team’s mission and goals.

In fall 2016, Connecting Delta Cities welcomed Washington as its newest official city member, joining 12 other cities, including Tokyo, Hong Kong, London, Rotterdam, Venice, New York City and New Orleans. "These cities are the world's front runners, sharing knowledge and experience to keep their cities safe and livable. They are connected by a common goal: a climate-proof, resilient future for their residents and businesses." - CDC. The goal of CDC is to develop a network of delta cities that are active in the field of climate-change-related development, water management and adaptation in order to exchange knowledge and share best practices (like the DC Silver Jackets) to support development of adaptation strategies.

Team Activities

DC Levee System and Flood Preparedness Public Outreach

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and National Park Service hosted a public meeting the evening of Oct. 30 in Southwest D.C. to share information with attendees on the results of a safety risk assessment completed for the District of Columbia Levee System, also referred to as the Potomac Park Levee. D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency also presented on flood preparedness measures for property and business owners/renters and evacuation procedures. The purpose of this meeting was to improve the public’s understanding of flood risk in the area as well as to educate residents and businesses on steps they can take to prepare for and reduce damages from flooding. This meeting was held as part of a nationwide effort the Corps is leading to individually assess levees across the nation to determine their safety risks and present this information to the public. The information that goes into a risk assessment includes how often the area may flood; the condition of the levee system; and the population and development (including critical infrastructure) at risk behind the levee system. 

Public Meeting Materials

*Click on the yellow comment icon on upper lefthand side of presentation slides to view notes. 

Federal Triangle Area Flood Workshops

The D.C. Silver Jackets hosted two Federal Triangle Area Flood Workshops with approximately 75 stakeholders in attendance at the University of the District of Columbia, on June 6 and September 5, 2018. The intent of the first workshop was to provide attendees with an overview of the flood history and risk in the Federal Triangle; discuss steps individual agencies are taking to flood proof their properties; present on types of interior flood risk management measures; and engage on key opportunities and challenges related to interior flooding in the area. The second workshop focused on potential flood risk management solutions. The Federal Triangle is a section of D.C. that is vulnerable to flooding and is also the site of some of D.C.'s most iconic buildings, as well as the center of tourism. 

June 6 Workshop Presentations

 September 5 Workshop Presentations

Preparing D.C. for the Next Major Flood

There are numerous agencies that have roles and responsibilities during a flood, and they all must be fully prepared to respond in order to reduce the risk of flooding to residents and the critical downtown infrastructure. The Silver Jackets team completed a tabletop exercise on November 3, 2015, to test the effectiveness of its Flood Emergency Manual (FEM). The FEM is undergoing revisions and details how federal, District, and public agencies will respond to flood emergencies in the region including emergency closures (via sandbags or panels) that are part of the District of Columbia Levee System, also referred to as the Potomac Park Levee.

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Washington D.C. and Vicinity Local Flood Risk Management Project

The D.C. Silver Jackets team prioritized ensuring the coordination and completion of the “17th Street closure” in Washington, D.C. The 17th Street closure structure is situated between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, and it reduces risk to human safety and critical infrastructure in downtown District of Columbia from flooding of the Potomac River. It was constructed and is regulated by the Corps of Engineers, and is operated and maintained by the National Park Service.  The 17th Street closure is a removable structure that can be erected in the event of high water to attach to the floodwalls on both sides of 17th Street and consists of aluminum panels between steel posts. Stone cladding application on the 17th Street floodwall was designed to blend in with the historic landscape of the National Mall. The closure is part of the District of Columbia Levee System, also referred to as the Potomac Park Levee, and the Washington, D.C. and Vicinity Local Flood Protection Project. The Army Corps is evaluating raising the height of the Potomac Park Levee. 

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Online Mapping Tools Show Predicted Flooding Along Potomac and Anacostia Rivers

The D.C. Silver Jackets Team developed an online flood inundation mapping tool project that help government leaders, emergency managers, and the public better predict flood impacts during high-water events in the D.C. metropolitan area. This tool provides two sets of maps: one that shows predicted riverine flooding along the Potomac River; and another that shows predicted tidal/storm surge flooding along the Potomac and Anacostia rivers. The tool is housed on the National Weather Service website

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2016 DC Flood Summit

More than 150 experts gathered to discuss flooding in our nation’s capital at Gallaudet University, Sept. 8, 2016, marking the first flood summit of its kind in Washington. The summit, which was organized by the D.C. Silver Jackets, occurred the week of the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Fran that engulfed Washington in 1996. 

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Watts Branch Flood Risk Management Study

The D.C. Silver Jackets is conducting a 2 year flood risk management study for neighborhoods along Watts Branch, which is a tributary of the Anacostia River, in the northeast corner of the District of Columbia. These neighborhoods are in a special flood-hazard area (within the 100-year floodplain) and consist of high-density residential and non-residential structures and critical infrastructure with vulnerable populations, including a public housing development. These high-risk flood zone areas will likely expand even further considering the effects of climate change. 

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For More Information Contact

DC Department of Energy and Environment, Email, 202-439-5715

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Baltimore District, Email, 410-962-4977

Participating Agencies

Federal

District of Columbia

Regional

Academia

Related Links and Documents

Flood Risk Management and Floodplain Resources


Silver Jackets Informational Products


Silver Jackets Annual Reports


Flooding Reports


Floods of Interest


Press Releases and Articles