When Hurricane Irma impacted Marco Island in September 2017, one of the areas identified for improvement was the need to update the electric power sources for pumping water at Marco Lakes for the 12-mile run to the island’s North Water Plant. Once arriving at that plant, the water receives further treatment and is distributed to homes and commercial facilities across the island for drinking water and fire protection.
The area around the Marco Lakes in East Naples experienced an extended downtime due to damage to the electric power infrastructure by the Category 3 Hurricane which battered Collier County. The city was forced to rely upon an older diesel-powered pump located out at the lakes, which limited the water flow to about 20-25% of its normal capacity.
The decision to participate in Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) 404 funding and make the project a priority resulted from the City’s Hurricane Irma After Action Report that called for the city to “identify and aggressively pursue FEMA Mitigation Grant opportunities to improve the protection of City facilities from storm damage.” The Citizens Ad Hoc Hurricane Irma Review Committee also recommended that the City pursue the hazard mitigation funding opportunities.
“There are many factors that play into the decision-making process that determines when it is appropriate to allow citizens to return to their homes after disasters such as this. Their safety and the ability of the city to provide necessary basic services such water for drinking and sanitary purposes in addition to fire protection needs is one of those,” said Chris Byrne who serves as the city’s Emergency Management Recovery Coordinator.
FEMA initiated the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program 404 immediately after President Trump identified Collier County as a declared disaster area. Those monies are funneled through the State of Florida and all projects are approved or disallowed based upon the review of those grant requests by a county review board.
The first step in the grant approval process was a presentation to the Collier County Local Mitigation Strategy (LMS) Working Group. HMGP grant applications must include an approval letter from the LMS Working group including countywide prioritization of all mitigation projects. The city’s grant proposal was ranked #8 out of the 66 projects identified within the county.
That successful ranking would make the Marco project eligible for Tier 1 funding and be passed on to the State of Florida Mitigation Office, who after careful review would recommend this project for FEMA approval, which occurred in late May of this year.
An overlooked benefit of the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) 404 funding will result in a savings in the future. “Studies have shown that federally funded mitigation grants, on average, can save the nation $6 in future disaster costs for every $1 spent on hazard mitigation,” according to Byrne. That Subrecipient Grant will now proceed to council for its approval so that the design and construction phase may proceed.
Jeff Poteet, the director of the city’s utility department, would praise the cooperative effort between all of the city and county staff, in addition to the FEMA review board. “This truly was a team effort,” commented Poteet.
Grant Request for Lift Stations
The city presently owns 22 portable generators that it can distribute to “lift-stations” at and around various stations which help to move the sanitary waste to the utility’s north treatment facility on East Elkcam Circle.
A grant has been applied for to add an additional 44 of those portable power units to insure there is no overflow of raw sewerage into the fragile environment around the island.
“We have been fortunate to be able to use personnel that stay throughout storm events such as Wilma or Irma to juggle those 22 units. The additional 44 units will insure there should be no impact to the environment,” said Jeff Poteet.
The city is awaiting the review committee’s judgement on that application.