Following Tropical Storm Isaac on August 26-27, 2012, the South Florida Water Management District conducted recovery efforts in areas of western Palm Beach County most heavily affected by the storm.
As part of the recovery efforts, SFWMD field crews constructed a 140-foot weir and flow-way channel to move water from the J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area to the Mecca property and into the C-18 canal. Water levels in the Corbett Area declined in response, and the District coordinated with the Indian Trail Improvement District to optimize drainage in the area.
A post-storm analysis shows the District moved an estimated 105 billion gallons of water away from residents in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties during and immediately after Isaac.
During the height of Isaac on Sunday, August 26, rainfall across the 16-county District averaged 3.89 inches – the second-largest single-day rainfall total in at least the last 20 years, according to SFWMD meteorologists.
As the storm moved away from South Florida on Monday, August 27, a trailing feeder band brought more rain – primarily to the east coast – for a District-wide two-day rainfall total of 4.76 inches. Only Tropical Storm Fay in August 2008 and Tropical Storm Mitch in November 1998 had higher two-day rainfall totals over the last two decades.
The heaviest rainfall was concentrated in Palm Beach and Broward counties. The C-51 Basin in western Palm Beach County experienced a 1-in-100-year rainfall event with nearly 15 inches of rain over a 72-hour period.
Readiness, Response and Recovery
With a forecast for heavy rainfall, the District began preparations for Tropical Storm Isaac in the days before it impacted South Florida. Water levels in regional canals were placed into pre-storm ranges to accept additional stormwater runoff. Field crews also conducted inspections and ensured adequate fuel supplies for pump stations and other equipment.
The District operated the regional flood control system during and after the storm at maximum capacity to move water from affected areas as quickly as possible out to tide, to the Water Conservation Areas or into Lake Okeechobee. Engineering calculations show that a total of 44.2 billion gallons of water was released to tide in Palm Beach County alone. Emergency orders were issued to maximize system operations and divert water to further alleviate local flooding.
Throughout its preparation for and response to Isaac, the District coordinated information with the state Emergency Operations Center as well as federal and local partners, including local drainage districts that connect to regional canals.