SWF Hosts Emergency Management Public Law 84-99 Outreach Session

Natural disasters leave little room for control, but preparation and a ready response can help minimize loss of life and damage to property. This is where the Emergency Management (EM) division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Fort Worth district, comes in.

Operating under two basic authorities, Public Law (PL) 84-99 (Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies), and when mission allocated by FEMA under the Stafford Disaster and Emergency Assistance Act, EM partners with local, state, and federal agencies, and federally recognized tribal communities to provide supplemental support.

With the operation and maintenance of 25 Federal flood control structures across the State of Texas, it is imperative for EM to keep the public informed on the benefits, potential risks, and consequences of our flood control projects.

Recent changes to PL 84-99 prompted an outreach session run by Headquarters USACE Public Law Program Manager, Willem Helms, and hosted by Maj. Joshua Haynes, deputy commander, Fort Worth District, from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1, 2022.

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The Goal? Hold nine regional stakeholder information sessions during the public comment period to discuss proposed revisions and accept feedback for the overall success of providing emergency support within the local communities.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Fort Worth District hosted more than 22 representatives from the region including the city of Dallas, engineering firms, Tarrant Regional Water District, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s Tulsa District, Tulsa County, Trinity River Authority, to discuss how the proposed revisions would affect their current ability to support their respective communities.

A major revision includes increasing the damage threshold from $15k to $50k. The threshold increase would allow funds to be directed toward more of the performance history of flood control projects, or levees. Damages less than $50k would be considered operations and maintenance (O&M) cost while. Both federally authorized and non-federal levees are eligible for federal assistance under the PL 84-99 Rehabilitation and Inspection Program.

“The biggest takeaway from this session is how ‘Emergency Management is a team sport,’ and each agency plays a role in protecting our Nation’s infrastructures and people, said Jeffrey Mahaffey, Emergency Management, Chief, Fort Worth District.

“It’s our (USACE) job to provide disaster preparedness services and advanced planning to reduce the amount of damage caused by natural disasters. With the community’s feedback for updating PL 84-99, we can set to publish spring or summer of 2023 and do just that,” said Mr. Helms.

This article is featured in the 2023-2024 edition of America’s Engineers: The People, Programs, and Projects of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

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