The Water Resources Development Act has passed the House by unanimous vote. It is still unclear where it is in the Senate but it could be next week. Click here to view the version the House voted on.
Preparing for Florence – Now downgraded to a Category 2, Florence is still a dangerous storm. It is tracking slowly NW and is targeting Wilmington, NC for a direct hit. Across the Carolinas catastrophic flash flooding and riverine flooding will occur, accompanied by life-threatening storm surge along the coasts. This storm coincides on the heels of an amplified local tide and saturated groundwater due to higher-than average rainfall. This, combined with 9-13ft of storm surge (108-156 inches), plus the localized rainfall of up to 40 inches, could put Wilmington under 16+ feet of water (196 inches). Despite the storm surge, “this is not just a coastal event,” said Ken Graham, director of the Nation Hurricane Center. Florence’s size is ‘staggering’ - cloud cover will reach multiple states and rain could last into early next week.
Image: National Hurricane Center
Image: National Hurricane Center
FEMA has stockpiled resources at Fort Bragg and North Field Air Base including more than 80,000 liters of water, 402,000 meals, 1,200 cots and 34 generators. Complaints about the reprogramming of nearly $10 million dollars from FEMA to ICE have returned tweets about the agency’s inability to use those funds due to appropriation constraints. DHS spokesperson Tyler Q. Houlton tweeted September 11th that, “DHS/FEMA stand fiscally and operationally ready to support current and future response recovery needs.” The current Disaster Relief Fund shows a balance of roughly $26.5 billion, a “healthy” figure says Houlton. Last year’s balance in July 2017 was only $3.8 billion.
20,000 palettes of bottled water were discovered on an airstrip in Puerto Rico. The water was intended for Maria victims but was never delivered. A foul smell and taste was report after 700 palettes had been distributed. The palettes are being returned to FEMA as time and heat have ruined the supply.
Florence’s projected path crosses over 9 of the 12 Nuclear Power Plants located along rivers in North Carolina that are required to shut down 2 hours before hurricane force winds begin. Nuclear power plants are designed to withstand hurricane force winds and flooding, and following the Fukushima disaster, all US nuclear power plants have been upgraded to withstand earthquakes and flooding. According to a local power company, Florence could knock out power to roughly 3 million customers in the Carolinas. The first nuclear reactor to shut down in Brunswick, NC, can withstand sustained wind speeds of over 200 mph and a 22-foot storm surge.
FEMA has a Hurricane Florence rumors page – have you fact checked what you’re hearing?
The Senate passed HR 5895 - Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs. While no funding for Trump’s border wall will be found here, it does require that the Work Plan to be released within 60 days of enactment. We know that can be stretched from the past year but this, so far, is ahead of schedule. The minibus package now goes to the House for consideration and then to the President. Movement on these packages this early is a good sign and will help develop our nation’s water infrastructure program faster.