SFWMD Prepares for Rainy Season with Annual Hurricane Freddy Drill

District simulates hurricane response as part of preparations to ensure flood protection to families and businesses

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.- A simulated Hurricane Freddy ravaged South Florida last week, coming ashore in Miami-Dade County with high winds and dropping feet of heavy rainfall across the region. The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) was ready and sprung into action all day to protect the 8.1 million residents it serves from flooding.

SFWMD held its annual “Hurricane Freddy” drill on April 17, 2019. Staff practiced its emergency response to a simulated hurricane scenario to ensure the District is prepared if a real hurricane hits South Florida. The drill is part of SFWMD’s annual preparations for the start of the hurricane season, which officially starts June 1.

This year’s scenario simulated a Category 5 hurricane striking Miami-Dade County with 165 mph winds, moving slowly up the central part of the state over a 3-day period resulting in more than 20 inches of rain over the central and eastern portions of the District. After weakening to a depression over the Kissimmee Valley, the simulated system stalled threatening to bring additional heavy rains, possibly totaling 70 inches.  SFWMD staff simulated working to manage the flow of water throughout the system while simultaneously performing emergency repairs to facilities and structures, assessing damage and removing debris.  Partner agencies such as the US Army Corp of Engineers, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and Florida Power and Light also took part in the exercise.

“This is an intense drill,” said SFWMD Emergency Manager Beth McElroy. “This exercise ensures that the agency maintains a high level of operational readiness and is always prepared to respond to storms and other disasters.”

Flood control in South Florida is a shared responsibility between the District, which operates the regional flood control system, and local drainage districts, municipalities and homeowners associations that operate the secondary and tertiary drainage systems that move flood waters away from homes and neighborhoods.

Residents throughout South Florida can report neighborhood flooding concerns by visiting the website https://www.sfwmd.gov/floodcontrol and entering an address to locate their local drainage district. As the rainy season approaches, residents are also urged to ensure that their property is free of any obstructions that would block drainage swales or canals and prevent the movement of flood waters after a storm.