Abstract: Opening Plenary Session  4:05 pm (BACK)

Emergency Response for Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee

Carl Schwartz
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The Presidential Declared Emergency for Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee led to the first Mission Assignment for the Department of the Interior from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.  Hundreds of site visits were undertaken by the twenty-six U.S. Fish and Wildlife deployees looking at ways to incorporate Natural Stream Design into stream repair activities instead of the traditional hardening.

The storms provided the opportunity for dozens of equipment operators who felt denied the chance to ream the stream total access.  Many miles of river were channelized in the name of flood control.  Reasons for the concept of trying to put all flood waters in a channel persist despite major floods re-occurring in 1996, 2006 and 2011. The stream gage for the Susquehanna River at Waverly, NY was 167,000 cubic per second but there are still calls for dredging the river in many communities.

Money, tradition, lack of understanding about sediment transport and panic are some of the reasons it will take a major educational campaign to improve the response to flood events.  There is an effort to address some of these issues and also to fix some of the streams that were reamed.