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Preparing D.C. for the Next Major Flood

Without the proper implementation of a flood emergency plan, flood risk in the District of Columbia is high. 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 District of Columbia’s interagency flood-fighting team, the Silver Jackets, completed a tabletop exercise on November 3, 2015, to test the effectiveness of its Flood Emergency Manual. This manual is undergoing revisions and details how federal, District, and public agencies will respond to flood emergencies in the region including emergency closures that are part of the Potomac Park levee system.

The updated manual feeds into a project to develop a District-wide flood emergency plan.  The revision to the flood manual, last significantly updated in 2006, is being prepared and coordinated by the Baltimore District, which is the federal co-lead for the District of Columbia Silver Jackets. Other major players include the D.C. Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) as the lead Silver Jackets agency, the National Park Service, the National Weather Service, and the D.C. Department of Homeland Security.

The D.C. Silver Jackets have also developed digital maps to help government leaders, emergency managers, and the public better predict flood impacts during high-water events along the Potomac and Anacostia rivers throughout the District of Columbia and the region.

The exercise, manual, and maps better prepare the District of Columbia’s emergency services and other agencies to improve processes and measures that will help save lives, protect property, and reduce future expenditures.