Hurricane and Stormwater Pump Preparedness – Before the Storm

How to Prepare for Severe Storms and Hurricanes with MWI Pumps

Hurricane stormwater pump preparedness is key in the wake of a severe weather event. After tropical storms / hurricanes, pump companies answer the emergency call to dewater flooded communities. But this requires strategic planning and preparation to deliver the equipment to damaged areas.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30. Every year it puts South Florida and the Atlantic Gulf Coast on high alert. The Eastern Pacific hurricane season begins a month earlier. Although weather experts can see a hurricane or tropical depression coming in advance of landfall; pump companies begin preparing long before the storms show up on radars.

Here are the top six tips when preparing for a severe weather event, according to MWI Pumps President Dana Eller:

Have the right pumps available for storm recovery

MWI Pumps offers standard 4″ – 12″ self-priming centrifugal pumps. They can be used for moving small to large amounts of water such as dewatering construction sites. They can be used as diesel-driven temporary standby pumps for lift stations that might go down in a storm. 

mixed flow pumps

“On larger equipment, 12″ – 16″ Hydraflo™ pumps remove water from canals or lakes that could affect home communities during rain events,” Eller said. “You could do this with several smaller pumps but it’s inefficient due to increased fuel cost and setup time. We can usually handle those jobs with one large pump quite easily. When 20,000 – 30,000 GPM of removal is needed, we can use one pump at a low cost with quick setup.”

Keep your rental fleet well maintained

“On the rental pump side, your equipment should be ready to go if you get a call,” Eller said. “If they’ve been sitting around, be sure that regular preventive maintenance, like lubrication and oil changing, is performed.”

Reserve pumps on standby in case of emergency

“A lot of our customers will put equipment on hold at the beginning of hurricane season with the right of first refusal,” Eller explained. “This allows MWI to rent the pumps to someone else if the customer doesn’t need them immediately. Meanwhile, other customers will submit a purchase order for pumps to be ready in case they need them for a natural disaster. This guarantees them a certain amount of equipment at a certain price.” These preparedness contracts go throughout the season and not necessarily for a specific hurricane that is on the radar.

GA Lake before and after.

Perform a preliminary pump-down

“Some customers rent pumps to do a preliminary pump-down in advance of a storm. This process lowers the water levels to prepare for a rise,” he said. “Most of South Florida does this because we have water management districts throughout the region. The districts utilize permanent pumps to bring down all canal levels and flow that excess water through the lakes.” The pump-down provides additional cushion in preparation for a hurricane that could cause severe flooding and storm overflow.

Ensure you have diesel-driven pumps

“If you only have electric-powered equipment, you better have a big generator,” Eller said. “Our customers really love our Hydraflo™ stormwater pumps because they include both diesel and electric motors on the same frame. If they lose electricity, the diesel engine kicks on immediately. Therefore, customers don’t have to pay extra for a separate generator. It’s much more cost effective and efficient. Of course, those diesels must be gassed up and ready to go with a full tank, but this feature severely helps prevent downtime.”

Organize logistics to deploy the equipment close to the high-impact areas

Pump companies will locate the emergency pumps they need in smaller flood areas or near lift stations. Pump companies then have that equipment stored in a nearby facility so they can be easily relocated after the storm. Placing the equipment too close to the epicenter of the storm can be counterproductive.

“It doesn’t do much good to put your equipment right in the eye of the storm,” Eller said. “However, our diesel-driven pumps are very durable. Unless a tree falls on one of them, they can withstand heavy-weather conditions. Chances are they will survive the storm unless a tornado picks one of them up. These pumps are not built out of paper mâché. It’s more of a risk of having your employees there when the storm hits than machinery.”

Flood pump airlift

Hurricane Stormwater Pump Preparedness

In some cases, roads are covered in debris or flooded, so pump companies must get creative. After Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans on August 29, 2005, the flooding was so severe that all roads were impassable. With the help of the Army Corps of Engineers, MWI deployed large dewatering pumps to the city center by way of helicopter. The pumps were positioned by hanging them from a cable beneath the aircraft. See here for details on our Emergency Hurricane Efforts or contact our 24/7 emergency helpline at 772-770-0004.