CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Homeowners and businesses in flood-prone areas of Mecklenburg County will soon receive advanced flood warnings in part because two Project Impact partners waived annual $24,000 lease fees to permit critical radio antennae to occupy space atop a 40-story building.
The Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners recently recognized Bank of America and TrizecHahn Office Properties for "notable public service" in waiving the annual lease fees for a radio repeater location atop BoA's downtown headquarters, the Bank of America Plaza building. TrizecHahn is the owner of the building, the tallest in the area. The site atop the building will be used for radio equipment to gather and transmit data used to alert flood-prone properties of potential risks during storm events. Data describing rainwater levels, stream flow and water quality will be monitored electronically at 80 county sites, and the data relayed to the radio repeater. The information will then be analyzed, emergency managers notified and they in turn will alert the residents and businesses in the affected areas.
"From this high central location, managers will be able to constantly receive rainfall data from streams throughout the entire county to enable the best real time flood warnings and water quality information ever," said Dave Canaan, director of Mecklenburg County's Storm Water Services. Canaan said the new system, when fully operational by year's end, will provide flood alerts ranging from one to two hours in advance.
The action was taken as part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Project Impact initiative that seeks to bring all elements of public and private sectors together to build a disaster resistant community.
Canaan, who was recently named employee of the year by the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, noted that the system will provide an environmental bonus. It will continually measure and transmit data that will reveal such things as water temperature, turbidity, acidity and alkalinity. "If there is an illegal discharge or a spill to the streams, hopefully the gauges will pick it up and we can mobilize to find out where the source is and mitigate further damages," Canaan explained. Canaan is credited with leading the effort to have the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community become a Project Impact partner.
"This is a classic example of how the broad spirit of cooperation that drives Project Impact can work for the welfare of the entire community," said Eric Tolbert, Director of the North Carolina Emergency Management Division (NCEMD).
Charlotte-Mecklenburg is a Project Impact community, one of nearly 200 in the nation. The radio repeater is a major component in a Real-Time Flood Tracking System being implemented by the city and county in cooperation with the bank, the property management company, and the U.S. Geological Survey. Similar tracking systems are in place in Austin, Phoenix, Denver, Kansas City and San Antonio.
Bank of America and TrizecHahn Office Properties are private sector partners in Project Impact in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.
Mecklenburg was presented the Environmental Livability Award by FEMA Director James Lee Witt for the integration of water quality into floodplain management. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Project Impact program has been recognized for its "invaluable contributions to risk assessment, storm water management, and floodplain management utilizing Geographic Information Systems."