Posts Tagged ‘Emergency Preparedness’

Portadam Cover 5-12-14

The Port-A-Dam deployed across the Rosemont side of the Beaver Brook bridge.

On Tuesday May 20 and Wednesday May 21 a City flood emergency team will conduct a flood training exercise.  The team, with members from Fire, Public Works and Wastewater, will do a dry run installation of both the stop log wall and the Port-A-Dam systems on opposite sides of the bridge over Beaver Brook on Martin and Beaver Streets.

The stop log wall system was built by the Army Corps of Engineers as part of the dike system on the Centralville side of the brook.  The Port-A-Dam system was purchased by the City in 2009 and is used on the Pawtucketville bank to help protect the Rosemont neighborhood.

“While we hope that these temporary dams never again need to be utilized, it is important that our flood response team conduct regular training on their installation,” said City Manager Kevin Murphy.  “Should the need arise, we will be prepared to respond and install these dams quickly to minimize damage to our neighborhoods.”

During these exercises the Beaver Brook bridge and approaches will be closed to through traffic from 9:15 a.m. to 1 p.m. as team members prepare, install and dismantle the structures.

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As this year’s grueling winter comes to an end, we  turn our attention from moving snow to managing flow.  While we hope for a slow melt off all along the Merrimack and Concord River watersheds and no major rain storms, we remain vigilant to weather and river level forecasts and ready to respond if the need arises.

 Preparations have ramped up and we are ready to respond to mitigate the impact of flooding in low lying neighborhoods along the Concord and Merrimack Rivers as well as areas along Clay Pit, Beaver and Black Brooks.

 We constantly monitor current conditions using the National Weather Service’s Hydrologic Prediction Services site which tracks daily fluctuations in river levels and weather predictions. In addition, public safety personnel are doing twice-a-day checks of known hot spots and Engineering staff are keeping an eye on gauges in the Merrimack and Concord Rivers. Based on our assessment of information and observations, we will determine the need to activate the Emergency Operations Center and to deploy the variety of resources at our disposal.

 Our resources include:

  • A stockpile of over 5000 empty sand bags and 500 filled bags are stored at the Water Department along with a sand bag filling machine.
  • Temporary pumping readiness—Emergency Management has two pumps (approx. 200 GPM capacity) and several smaller submersible pumps and 2 generators. Additional pumps are also available from the Wastewater should they be needed.
  • A portable dam for use along Beaver Brook.
  • Sixteen emergency shelter sites with the Senior Center being the primary site.
  • Trained volunteers ready to assist in a variety of emergency operations.

 In preparation for this year’s spring season, DPW Streets Division has been continually checking culverts, clearing them immediately if required. Clearing storm drains has been an ongoing effort by Wastewater. And catch basins have been cleared of snow in areas susceptible to flooding and we continue to clear them in response to residents’ calls.

 A practice run for erecting the Beaver Brook flood gate on the Centralville side of Beaver Brook is carried out once a year. As a precautionary measure, Wastewater will be preparing sections of the portable dam next to the Beaver Street CSO pump station over the next week. These operations are carried out by a dedicated team consisting of on-duty staff from Fire, Public Works, Water and Wastewater.

 Providing temporary shelter would be critical should a major flood event displace any of our residents. To prepare for that possibility, we conducted two run-throughs of our shelter plan over the past year. Evacuation declarations are communicated through:

  • Phone notification system controlled in the 911 room
  • City of Lowell Web site and Emergency Notification emails
  • Strike team for each area to be evacuated
  • Emergency vehicle with PA systems doing drive bys
  • Media release – newspaper, radio (AM 980 WCAP) and TV
  • evacuation boats & trucks if necessary

Once evacuation declaration goes into effect, Emergency Operations personnel call in staffing for shelter locations. Where necessary, boats and/or buses are utilized to transport displaced residents to the nearest active shelter site.

 We urge all residents in flood prone areas to remain aware of changing conditions and make preparations for their property and, more importantly, for assuring their safety.

To track the predicted levels of the Merrimack River, log on to:


 For Concord River predictions, log on to:


 The following sites also provide additional flood and storm emergency information:





 Despite all of these preparations and our best efforts, we realize that Mother Nature remains largely in control but hope that she will be kind to the City and the region this spring.

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