The increasing frequency and intensity of coastal storms and accelerating sea level rise are resulting in greater coastal flood-related risks to waterfront facilities and structures in New England. These risks include direct impacts such as property and content damage loss, “during storm,” near-term and potentially long-term operations and service disruption, release of environmental pollutants, and public and personnel safety. They also include indirect risks, including unrecoverable financial loss, the increasing cost of insurance, and the decreasing availability of insurance.
There are many types of waterfront structures including: Piers and Wharves; Dry Docks; Bulkheads; Quay Walls; Breakwaters, Jetties, and Auxiliary Structures, Components, Equipment, and many types of waterfront facilities including commercial Ports and Harbors, Bulk Terminals, Military Ports, and Small Craft Harbors and Marinas. The Design Criteria and Emergency Response requirements for many of these facility types is highly regulated by the U.S. Coast Guard and other federal agencies, building codes and industry specific guidance. This brief article looks at Emergency Response Planning for Coastal Flood Risks for Small Craft Harbors and Marinas, which are more common (and present significant cumulative risk) but are typically less regulated than other types of waterfront facilities.
The purpose of emergency response planning and implementation for Small Craft Harbors and Marinas, in addition to safety, is to manage and mitigate coastal flood risks, which principally include:
As noted above, the extent and frequency of occurrence of these risks are dramatically increasing due to climate change, and a volatile and worried insurance market is pushing the financial risk to be more weighted upon the owner through limited coverage and high deductibles. The increase in typical recreational vessel size is also a contributing risk factor.
Emergency response planning and implementation includes the specific actions and deployable measures with the goals of increasing safety, mitigating impacts, reducing losses, and a rapid post-storm recovery. The components of a coastal Emergency Response Plan (ERP) to address the risks identified above may typically include the following. These plans can be stand-alone ERPs or be incorporated into the comprehensive facility Emergency Response Plan.
A. Purpose of Plan
B. Plan Overview
C. Site Flood Hazard and Facility Vulnerability
D. Emergency Contacts
- Facility Contacts
- Local Emergency Contacts
- Key Contractors / Vendors
E. Authority to Activate Plan
F. Flood Action Plan
- Flood Warning Action/Notification Phases
- Emergency Announcements
- Emergency Response Equipment
- Utility Shut-Off and Lockdown (Electrical, Water, Communications)
- Fuel Dock Lockdown
- Facility Shutdown
G. Fire Prevention Measures
H. Fuel Release Prevention and Response Measures
I. Flood Control Measures (including deployable flood control measures)
J. Vessel Management (e.g., hauling, evacuation, anchoring and securing)
K. Recovery Plan
- Fuel Spill Restoration
- Fire Protection Restoration
- Restoration of Operations
L. Post-Event Review
M. FERP Training Exercises
N. Annual Review
O. Plan Limitations
Existing programs such as New England’s “Clean Marina” programs, along with Spill Prevention Control & Countermeasures Plans (SPCC) also provide emergency response planning guidance for management of fuel and other hazardous materials and mitigation of environmental releases during both normal use and during coastal flood events and can be used conjunction with or incorporated into the ERP. Depending upon stored quantities, facilities covered by Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) requirements will also annually submit an Emergency and Hazardous Chemical Inventory Form to the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), the State Emergency Response Commission (SERC), and the local fire department.
In summary, reducing financial and other losses, maintaining safe conditions during and after storms and preventing or minimizing operational and service disruption due to coastal storms is essential for Small Craft Harbors and Marinas. Resilient site design and Emergency Response Planning are key components of coastal storm risk management.
Dan Stapleton is a Senior Principal at GZA and has over 35 years of professional experience. He has professional degrees in geology, civil engineering, geotechnical engineering and ocean engineering and is a licensed Professional Engineer. He specializes in the assessment of geohazards and their effect on natural and built environments.
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