Eppley Airfield’s Fight Against the Flood
In 2011, the Missouri River Basin flooded, causing more than $2 billion in damages to surrounding areas, according to Nebraska Life Magazine. Eppley Airfield, a main transportation hub in the Omaha Metropolitan area and a gateway to Nebraska commerce, was in its path. All in all, the total cost to Eppley would top $22 million.
But it could have been much worse…
In June of 2011, IP Design Group was one of seven professional services firms that formed a 24/7 operation to protect Eppley Airfield from the historic flood. While the Missouri River itself was a concern as it neared the levee cap, the team was more concerned with the constantly rising groundwater and threat of sinkholes. Over 70 groundwater wells were dug throughout the property to move the water away from the airfield.
Coordinating this effort not only required great team communication, but instant communication. “Critical team members met every day for several months to evaluate water levels and identify areas of special concern,” explains Andrew Hanrath, a systems integrator at IP Design Group. “Many quick decisions were made that required immediate follow-up action from multiple groups who all needed to be on the same page, so the communications systems needed to be able to make that happen.”
Having worked with Omaha Airport Authority (OAA) for over 30 years, IP Design Group not only had an intimate understanding of the airport’s facilities, systems, and operations, but of OAA’s culture and expectations. This allowed for seamless planning and coordination of efforts that took the form of three main steps.
“Eppley Airfield is an essential part of the state of Nebraska’s infrastructure…Thanks to a dedicated and innovative team of owners, engineers, architects, and consultants, the airport was able to remain operational throughout what was considered a once-every-500-years event.”
– Brant Yantzer, vice president of IP Design Group
1. Establish a situational command center
IP Design Group helped establish a situational command center for all engineering and contractor coordination activities. This included coordinating the setup of a primary conferencing space including conferencing ability, multi-function output devices, shared appliances, as well as wired and wireless network connectivity.
To help with communication among team members away from the command center, IP Design Group also facilitated the purchase and administrative setup of wireless pagers. These pagers were given to key flood response team members including engineers, contractors, OAA leaders, and airline representatives. Should a critical event have happened, the quick mass notification system would have enabled fast team response.
2. Set up camera feeds to monitor the situation
IP Design Group assisted in setting up a security camera on the beacon tower near the levee so that OAA could monitor water activity in real-time. The team was also involved in the installation of a wireless point-to-point link from the beacon tower to a nearby existing camera pole with existing network connectivity. To configure and align the wireless point-to-point link, IP Design Group staff used a bucket truck to work directly with the equipment at the beacon tower. The team also developed an improvised outdoor enclosure to house an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) for the wireless point-to-point link. This way, it would not be disrupted even if the general power supply went down.
Additionally, IP Design Group helped repurpose existing security cameras to livestream airport activities on Eppley Airfield’s website. This not only let the public follow the situation as it unfolded, but reassured airlines and passengers that the airport was continuing to operate normally despite the flood.
3. Creation of an asset protection and response plan
IP Design Group lead the team in creating a contingency plan for critical IT spaces should floodwaters have breached the levee and other protective barriers. If those IT spaces were to have been lost, the team was prepared to relocate all critical infrastructure to an off-site, third-party data center facility in order for the airfield to remain fully operational.
“Eppley Airfield is an essential part of the state of Nebraska’s infrastructure as the main transportation facility for the business operations of the state,” Brant Yantzer, vice president of IP Design Group, explains. “Thanks to a dedicated and innovative team of owners, engineers, architects, and consultants, the airport was able to remain operational throughout what was considered a once-every-500-years event.”
IP Design Group has been working with the Omaha Airport Authority (OAA) at Eppley Airfield for over 30 years, providing technology consulting and design on a variety of projects from the dispatch console, crash phone, and ARFF alerting to the latest parking garage.