Federal Flood Assessment Conference Recommendations and Proceedings
Michelsen, Dr. Ari
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Beginning in late July and continuing through mid September 2006 the Paso del Norte region, consisting of El Paso City and County, Texas, southern New Mexico and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, experienced a number of record high precipitation events and severe localized and widespread flooding. According to the National Weather service, the July 31 to August 4 rains alone were more like a 100-150 year recurring event over the areas hardest hit. These floods that continued over a period of more than a month caused extensive and costly damage to infrastructure, homes, businesses and other property to the extent the region was declared a Federal Disaster Area. In this bi-national, three state region many different Federal agencies and other organizations have jurisdiction or roles in forecasting climate and river flows, monitoring hydrology, water management operations, flood control design and construction, security, infrastructure, communication and disaster assistance. Congressman Silvestre Reyes convened this Federal Flood Assessment Conference to tap into the recent experiences regarding levels of coordination between federal agencies during this month's flood control operations in the Hatch/Las Cruces area of southern New Mexico and the El Paso/Juarez area of West Texas. This meeting between the federal water management agencies was foreseen as timely and important for reviewing the effects of the storm and to offer recommendations for needed changes and improvements. Valuable information was shared at the conference that will greatly assist in assessing the flood events, improving management and coordination among federal agencies and mitigating future impacts. Insight gained from the conference and the follow up summary reports contained in the proceedings will also help lay the groundwork for future planning and coordination with state and local agencies, irrigation districts and other organizations. One of Congressman Reyes’ desired outcomes from the conference is a proceedings report containing summaries of each organization’s observations, responses and recommendations regarding the area’s flood events. This conference proceedings and recommendation report contains a summary of priority agency and organization recommendations, conference agenda, list of participants, individual agency follow up reports identifying the agency responsibilities, flood event impacts from the agency perspective, agency actions, lessons learned, communication successes, full list of agency priority recommendations, identification of planned incident reports and agency contact information. Infrastructure funding, improved communication, river and levee maintenance, and the need for additional weather and gauging stations, telemetry and coordinated or centralized access to real-time monitoring data are among the highest priority recommendations. A summary of common priority recommendations follows this section. A more complete list of agency and organization priority recommendations is provided following the individual agency reports. The report also includes agency conference Power Point presentations and as additional background, maps showing gauging station locations and monitoring organizations.