The Hurricane Plan June 3, 2014

Eisenhower said “Plans are nothing; planning is everything.” The majority of MIASF members are seasoned veterans in the drill. Once a year they take out the plan dust it off, update it, review with employees and set about educating their customers and requiring them to provide their vessel’s plan.

Broward County has a hurricane plan that is designed to help boaters get to safe harbor. Coordinating plans with others that will impact the execution of the plan is critical. On May 27th MIASF hosted the annual Hurricane Flotilla meeting. The meeting is made up of representatives from all the agencies that are impacted or have operational control on the New River bridges; this includes but not limited FDOT, Broward EOC, USCG, FEC, CSX, of course the marine units from FWC, BSO and Fort Lauderdale and others.

The need to develop a flotilla plan became apparent years ago when the EOC called for evacuation of the barrier island requiring closure of the bridges. This action prevented those vessels with a prearranged slip up the New River from transiting the river. The flotilla plan permits vessels to find refuge up river while minimizing the number of bridge openings that would delay the evacuation of the barrier island by being guided in groups by the marine units.

The annual Flotilla meeting services as an opportunity to update contacts, meet the new personnel, discuss improvements to the plan. This year the repair and maintenance work on bridges was touched on to insure they were prepared for the season and knew what to expect from vessel traffic. Those projects include the 95 bridge painting project which reduces the vertical clearance by 5 feet, the replacement of the CSX Bridge which occasionally has a barge in the channel and the Las Olas Bridge project which has been on a single span opening. All bridges are ready to allow unimpeded access in the event of a storm.

The meeting ends on the hope there will be no need to talk or use the plan until next year.

Broward County Hurricane Flotilla Plan

When a Hurricane Watch is posted for Broward County by the National Hurricane Center, Miami, the Flotilla Plan will be initiated. The opening of bridges on the New River will be limited to flotillas and only at the request of the Marine Command Post.

Broward County Sheriff’s Office (BSO) will be in command of the Flotilla Plan operating from a Marine Command Post at the Fort Lauderdale Police Marine Unit’s headquarters on the S.E. 15 Street Canal, telephone number 954-828-5440. Additionally, waterway condition reports will be communicated between police agencies on 7268.0 Khz (Lower Side Band).

Phase 1 of the Flotilla Plan is preparation and observation of potential waterway hazards by marine police. Phase 2 will restrict bridge openings to flotillas only and then only on the order of the Marine Command Post. Flotilla operations will end 3.5 hours after the Evacuation Order is issued. All bridges will be locked down at that time or when the wind reaches 39 mph, whichever is first.

Flotillas will form in staging areas near Bahia Mar and Pier 66. FLPD Marine Units will be located on the ICW north and south of the New River to assist in the flotilla movements. USCG Auxiliary boats will also assist in the formation of flotillas. There is no specific time when flotillas will get underway. It is at the discretion of the officer in charge.

It should be noted that, historically, bridges in Broward and Dade counties have secured operations before the time indicated by their respective disaster management plans. Boaters should be warned not to depend upon published closures but allow a wide margin for safety – another reason to move the boat early. Boats capable of navigating the New River without bridge openings are not required to join a flotilla.

ICW Hurricane Bridge Schedule

Waterway Bridge Schedule
Hourly Openings
Between Bridges in miles
Hillsboro Blvd. On 3/4 Hr.
NE 14 Street On 3/4 Hr. 5.0
Atlantic Blvd. On the Hour 1.0
Commercial Blvd. On 1/2 Hr. 3.0
Oakland Park Blvd. On 3/4 Hr. 1.5
Sunrise Blvd. On 1/4 Hr. 2.1
Las Olas Blvd. On 1/2 Hr. 1.4
SE 17 Street On Hour 1.9
Dania Beach Blvd. On 1/4 Hr. 3.5
Sheridan Street On 1/2 Hr. 1.1
Hollywood Blvd. On the Hour 1.7
Hallandale Bch. Blvd On 1/2 Hour 1.8

These ICW drawbridges are scheduled to operate under the above guidelines only during hurricane situations from the time an Emergency Evacuation Order is given until 8 hours before arrival of gale force winds (39 MPH/34KTS) when all bridges are authorized to be locked down.

© MIASF 2019 | All rights reserved | Photo credit: J. Christopher Photography

Marine Industries Association of South Florida. 221 SW 3rd Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312. Phone: 954.524.2733