The Acreage survived Hurricane Irma with far less damage than anticipated and little flooding, according to Indian Trial Improvement District Manager John “Woody” Wodraska, who said the community had “dodged the bullet” in light of more extensive damage on the west coast.
Wodraska said he got out of a storm damage assessment meeting Thursday morning, where it was reported that The Acreage received between 8 and 11 inches of rain.
“The average was about 8 inches, and that is an important number to put into context,” Wodraska told the Town-Crier on Thursday. “We draw down the system to the maximum allowed under the permit, in preparation, creating as much freeboard and as little groundwater in the system as possible.”
He said ITID Engineer Jay Foy was also at the meeting and said, theoretically, the ITID system, if it is totally drawn down, should be able to handle a 10-inch rainstorm.
“That’s what happened, and we had no flooding and no surprises with the system,” Wodraska said.
Wodraska, who recently took on the manager’s position at ITID after a career that included 20 years as director of the South Florida Water Management District, compared the Irma event to Tropical Storm Isaac in 2012, which deposited 19 inches of rain in The Acreage, where the forecast had been 4 to 6 inches. The district had not drawn down in anticipation of that size storm event.
He said one of the outcomes, not only from Hurricane Irma, but also Superstorm Sandy and Tropical Storm Isaac, is that the wet times are getting wetter and the dry times are getting dryer. The extremes in weather are happening more frequently, which leads managers to be more conservative and draw the system down more when they get advance notice of a rainfall event.
“The bottom line was the system worked fine, and we were very pleased,” Wodraska said. “I was especially pleased with the reaction from our workforce at Indian Trail. The guys showed up at 6 o’clock in the morning on Monday following the Sunday storm, and they’ve been working 10-hour days grading the roads and clearing the canals. There was a lot of debris in the canals, but we had gassed up all of our chain saws, and all of our equipment was ready to go.”
He gave special recognition to Director of Stormwater Operations Greg Shafer and Director of Operations & Maintenance Rob Robinson and his crew for staying on top of the situation.
“They really have done an outstanding job, and the residents of The Acreage can be really proud of the work staff has done at Indian Trail,” Wodraska said, adding that the damage has been surprisingly minimal from initial reports.
“We were out doing assessment reports, but we really haven’t run into a bunch of damage,” he said. “There were a lot of trees knocked over, and certainly debris, and we’re setting up a system. I was at a meeting today on making sure we get reimbursement, and we’re going to have the tickets and everything to be prepared for FEMA, but right now it’s more debris management than anything else.”
Wodraska said the biggest challenge will be with debris removal because of the amount involved.
“We’re going to have a problem with debris management and removal because there’s so much of it, but I think it’s a manageable problem, and I feel pretty confident we can go forward with that,” he said.
One of the first reports he got was from the safety coordinator, who said there were no injuries.
“We haven’t lost any time, and the workforce couldn’t be any more responsive, from a safety standpoint as well as a productivity schedule,” Wodraska said.