The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, is ready to respond in any way needed as Hurricane Irma bears down toward a potential landfall in Florida, and is providing all necessary information to boaters and campers about operational adjustments now taking place at its navigation docks and recreational facilities.
Boaters are advised that USACE has extended operating hours at its five navigation docks on the Okeechobee Waterway. They will be open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. beginning Thursday, Sept. 7. To ensure the safety of lock operators, the corps will suspend operations when lightning is in the area or when winds begin exceeding 35 mph sustained. Corps staff are reminding boaters that mooring vessels or rafts near approaches to locks or in places that affect navigation is prohibited.
Also, staff began closing all USACE campgrounds today, Thursday, Sept. 7, in South Florida. Corps staff are advising visitors to move campers, motor homes, tents, vessels and trailers from USACE facilities as soon as possible.
“Public safety is our top priority,” said Col. Jason Kirk, the Jacksonville District commander. “We are adjusting our operations to ensure the safety of those who use our facilities in South Florida.”
District staff also are conducting a pre-storm evaluation of the Herbert Hoover Dike that surrounds Lake Okeechobee. The current lake depth is 13.68 feet. While no immediate threat exists, the USACE advises people living and working around the lake to be cognizant of water levels and to have a plan to take immediate action if conditions warrant. Corps staff will continue their constant communication with elected leaders and emergency management officials at the state and local level.
The USACE Jacksonville District activated its emergency operations center last Friday, Sept. 1. District staff have spent the past few days coordinating actions to move people and equipment into strategic locations so that recovery can begin as Hurricane Irma passes through and out of Florida.
More information about USACE Jacksonville District response actions can be found at www.saj.usace.army.mil.