Planning

Herbert Hoover Dike Information

 

Purpose

                  

The Palm Beach County Division of Emergency Management has maintained a close collaboration with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the South Florida Water Management District, the Florida Division of Emergency Management, and the counties surrounding Lake Okeechobee (Martin, Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee) in developing strategies for the unlikely event that the Herbert Hoover Dike undergoes a breach.  The priorities of these strategies are to ensure the safety of all residents living around the lake, the protection of properties, and the rapid mobilization of assets to respond to and recover from the flooding impacts caused by a dike breach.  Included in these strategies are the joint efforts of all response partners in safely evacuating residents from the Lake Okeechobee region.  Emergency evacuation plans have been created that address the roles and responsibilities of each jurisdiction, government agency, and area resident.


All citizens that could be affected by a dike breach should plan ahead. Please review the FAQs below:


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How will I be notified in case there is a problem with the dike?

  1. Emergency Alert System – The Emergency Alert System (EAS) is a national public warning system that broadcast messages over local television, wireless cable systems, and radio stations.  The National Weather Service (NWS) utilizes this system to send out important weather-related information, such as flash flood warnings and advisories that are related to a dike breach.  This broadcast will provide more specific information regarding the protective measures the public is advised to take, such as evacuating to a specific location. The EAS is broadcast on FM 90.7 and local television and radio stations.

 

  1. Integrated Public Alert and Warning System  – FEMA's Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) program provides an internet-based capability for federal, state, territorial, tribal, and local authorities to use in order to issue critical public alerts and warning. 

 

  1. NOAA Weather Alert Radios – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Alert Radios are used to provide alerts to the public of impending severe weather conditions, flash flood warnings, and advisories, which may require extra caution or the need to take cover. The Weather Alert Radios broadcast only messages from NOAA and the NWS.

 

  1. Regional Alert and Notification System – The Palm Beach County Regional Alert and Notification System allows a pre-recorded message to be sent to all telephones in a certain area to provide information or a warning message. All published telephone numbers are already included in the system's database and new numbers are added shortly after the phone is activated.

 

  1. Facebook and Twitter - Stay connected with the Division of Emergency Management on Facebook - PBCDEM and Twitter - @pbcdem to receive up-to-date emergency information and notifications. 

 

  1. Police and Fire-Rescue – In the event that an evacuation is required Police and Fire/Rescue vehicles will pass through neighborhoods with their lights and sirens on as well as alternately announcing over the public address systems that residents are being evacuated and a location they are to go to for pickup. If this should happen, Palm Beach County Emergency Management strongly urges all residents and businesses to obey these instructions immediately.

How will I evacuate the area in case of an emergency?

When a mandatory evacuation is issued, it's time to take immediate action. Seek an evacuation route that leads out of the danger zone. If you don't have transportation, there are pick up locations where residents can be taken to shelters.  These locations include but are not limited to the following:

  1. City Hall locations (Belle Glades, Pahokee, South Bay)
  2. Public schools
  3. All regular Palm Tran routes in the Lake area

Palm Beach County will have buses going to each of the sites listed above.  Once on board one of the buses, you will be taken to a shelter.  Contact your local municipality for specific addresses of pick up locations.

What if I have special medical needs and require assistance?

Palm Beach County has established a Special Needs Program to provide for residents with certain medical problems during a major emergency. The Special Needs Shelter is a facility with physicians and nurses on staff.  It has auxiliary electrical power, is wind resistant, and not flood-prone. The shelter is not a medical facility and provides limited services. The shelter does not provide medication, dialysis, oxygen or oxygen concentrators.

Emergency Management is responsible for maintaining the client rosters, operational logistics, and coordination of the Special Needs Shelters. Space at these shelters is limited.  Prioritization is based on need.

Go to the Special Needs site to register or call 561-712-6400 to learn about eligibility requirements and to obtain a registration form.

What if I am disabled and live in an evacuation zone. What are my transportation options?

Register with Palm Tran Connections for the Special Transportation Assistance Program (STAP)  by calling 561-649-9848 or 877-870-9849 (toll-free) for an application.

In order to be eligible for the STAP, residents must pre-register and meet the following criteria: Live in the evacuation zones, mobile homes, manufactured homes and housing of known substandard construction, be disabled; and/or have no other means of transportation. 

Where will I go once I have evacuated?

The first option you should pursue would be to stay with family or friends that live outside the danger zone. If you cannot relocate to a relative or family member's home, please tune into local radio stations and TV stations for updated information. Local officials will coordinate shelters outside the danger zone.

When can I go home?

In the event that any area around Lake Okeechobee is under an evacuation order, residents will not be allowed to return to these areas as long as hazardous conditions remain. This may include any of the following: contaminated flood waters, severely damaged infrastructure, exposed power lines, sewage, and hazardous materials. As soon as the area is deemed safe, Palm Beach County authorities working with local jurisdictions and state agencies will control a safe and organized re-entry process.  Stay informed through many venues including TV, radio, Internet, mobile applications, or by calling the Emergency Information Center: 561-712-6400

How can I best prepare for a dike breach or other emergency in my area?

  1. Plan Ahead – The best offense is a good defense. Obtain and store supplies and review plans with your family now to avoid panic in the event of a disaster.
  2. Establish an Out of State Contact – In case of an emergency situation, you should establish one contact person that you can call and provide your status. In an emergency, access to phone lines or cell service may be limited. Call your contact and update them regarding your status. Give this number to other friends and family so they can call other relatives and not tie up overburdened lines in a disaster area. This helps everybody's peace of mind. Many of us now rely on cordless phones. If the power supply fails, these may be inoperable. Purchase a phone that is not cordless. This will be essential when the power is out.
  3. Create an Escape Plan – Develop a plan to get your family out of danger, remembering that your plan may need to change depending on the threat you face (for example, flooding versus wildfires). Practice your plan frequently with your whole family, especially if small children are involved.
  4. Protect Important Documents – For insurance purposes, photograph things of value and either take the printed pictures or an electronic version of them with you. Put people in the pictures to help prove ownership. In the case of mandatory or voluntary evacuation, make sure you have important papers either stored in a safe deposit box, or pack them up to take with you. This includes insurance papers, deed information, marriage licenses and pet vaccination records – anything that you might need to prove who you are, what you own, and where you live.
  5. Prepare for Flooding – If you expect flooding, move sensitive items like computers, electronics, heirlooms, and furniture to higher ground. Keep a supply of tarps to protect your belongings in case of water infiltration.
  6. Stay Tuned to the Radio, TV, or mobile device – Make sure you have a battery-operated radio and/or TV to stay informed. Also check that you have enough flashlights. Battery-operated lanterns provide a lot of illumination. Make sure you have enough batteries!
  7. Be Ready to Evacuate – Local officials will inform you of the need for mandatory evacuation. If local officials tell you to go, GO! If you have been ordered to evacuate and you stay, you will be on your own in case of emergency. Fire-Rescue vehicles may not be able to get to you in high water conditions. You and your family may be trapped and unable to reach safety, food, and water.
  8. Plan Your Route – If a mandatory evacuation is ordered, you and everyone else will be on the road. Plan ahead and anticipate supplies you might need for the drive. Know where you're going in advance of an evacuation and map out several routes in case some roads are blocked by flood waters or other hazards.

What if I still have questions?

Please contact your local municipal officials. If you're still unsure about who to contact or you live in unincorporated Palm Beach County, please call the Palm Beach County Division of Emergency Management at 561-712-6400.

 

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