Silver Jackets: Many Partners, One team


Many Partners, One Team


For More Information Contact

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), St. Paul District, Email, 651-290-5002

Minnesota Department of Public Safety- Homeland Security and Emergency Management, 651-201-7455

Minnesota Silver Jackets


To create, maintain, and integrate comprehensive partnerships to reduce risk associated with natural hazards in Minnesota.


To develop or identify and recommend implementation of common solutions that will strategically help to minimize recurring serious effects of natural hazards in the state of Minnesota

To establish an interagency approach to sharing knowledge and agency resources and to plan and recommend the implementation of strategic measures to proactively reduce the risks and predictable effects to communities impacted by natural hazard events.


To establish an interagency working group with State and Federal agencies to:

  • Enable effective and efficient sharing of information.
  • Identify promote the sharing and coordination of available agency resources.
  • Promote Natural hazard risk education and information dissemination throughout the state of Minnesota.

Team Activities

Updating State Hazard Mitigation Plans- Risk Assessments, Climate Change, and Resiliency

Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM), a Minnesota Department of Public Safety division, is responsible for ensuring the state of Minnesota has a Federal Emergency Management Agency approved All-Hazard Mitigation Plan. The purpose of the plan is to address hazards that impact the state. State plans are required to be updated every five years. HSEM contracted with U-Spatial at the University of Minnesota to update the state profile, natural hazard risk assessment, vulnerability assessments, and other plan sections, including mapping. HSEM and U-Spatial have worked together on previous updates to the state plan. In addition, U-Spatial updated many of the state's multi-jurisdictional county hazard mitigation plans.

HSEM led the planning process, coordinating the review of mitigation goals, strategies, and actions, as well as updating the state's capability assessment. To gather additional input and review, HSEM utilized the federal/state interagency group (the Silver Jackets) and met with the state Climate Change Subcabinet, Resiliency and Adaptation Action Team.

The plan's guiding principles include fostering cooperative relationships, following the planning process, focusing on reducing risks, and improving mitigation capabilities. State hazard mitigation planning aims to foster partnerships for natural hazard mitigation, promoting more resilient and sustainable states and communities and reducing the costs associated with disaster response and recovery. The updated Minnesota State Hazard Mitigation Plan will be available at Hazard Mitigation - State Hazard Mitigation Plan.

Understanding the Past to Better Communicate Risks of the Future

The Mississippi River has a pronounced history of flooding, but the damage from the 1965 flood was so extensive that on April 11 and subsequent dates the President of the United States had declared 65 counties in Minnesota, 14 counties in Wisconsin, 87 counties in Iowa, 10 counties in Illinois, and 7 counties in Missouri eligible for natural disaster assistance. The 1965 flood at St. Paul crested to around 26 feet, about 12 feet above flood stage and 4 feet above the previous record level for the 1952 flood.

Following the 1965 event, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers helped the City of Saint Paul develop a bigger flood wall sufficient enough to withstand the flood of record that now protects most residents and buildings in downtown Saint Paul.

During this time the St. Paul Union Depot was closed to rail traffic for over 2 weeks. As a result of flooding to depths of 6 to 8 feet causing heavy siltation and other extensive damage, the St. Paul downtown airport was closed for about 4 weeks. The Minneapolis-St. Paul sewage disposal plant ceased operations for 4 weeks. The completed Federal flood protection system on the right bank of the Mississippi River prevented all physical damages to the enclosed industrial area. Losses prevented by these improvements are estimated at $10 million.

After the 1965 flooding, the left bank of the river a city floodwall system along Shepard Road was raised and strengthened by emergency protective works. The city floodwall system together with emergency protective works prevented substantial losses. However, damages including costs of flood fighting were estimated at $4,900,000.

The MN Silver Jackets team has developed communication material to place floodplain information displays and high water mark (HWM) signs along the Mississippi River through downtown St. Paul. There is high visibility and recreation along the river corridor park on both banks with trails and activities sites. There are already high quality information/interpretive signs throughout the trail system along the river, but nothing on flood plains or HWMs.

The MN Team in the past engaged the City of St. Paul (the original mapping sponsor), the National Park Service (this reach is contained in a national recreation area) and the Science Museum of MN, which has its facility overlooking and interacting with this reach of the river. All parties agreed that additional information/interpretive displays and HWM signs tying together the varied agencies' missions were a needed addition to the existing materials. The goal is to create a risk-informed sustainable public information and outreach campaign to promote wise use of the floodplain. An interagency brochure on the river corridor and flood plains was developed.

A Pilot Project Using GIS to Map Undocumented Levees in Minnesota

Local, state, and federal managers tasked with forecasting flood peaks, predicting the extent of flood inundation, mitigating the risk associated with flooding or levee failure, or responding during flood emergencies require detailed knowledge about levee locations and characteristics. Although some levees are accredited in FEMA's Flood Insurance Rate Maps and supporting studies and/or included in the USACE National Levee Database, many undocumented, unaccredited, and often unmaintained levees exist, which complicates flood forecasting, risk management, and emergency response.

The Minnesota Silver Jackets team supported an interagency effort that assessed two methods of using remote sensing with high-resolution LIDAR topographic data to identify undocumented levees. The methods drew on the topographic characteristics of accredited and any known unaccredited levees to develop search criteria and test methodologies for identifying existing, intentional levee structures near rivers as well as other levee-like structures that may or may not be acting as water barriers. U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and USACE were the lead technical agencies with LIDAR data provided by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and local assessment completed by the cities of Delano and Springfield, MN. The published results of this pilot project are available for federal, state, and local communities so that they may apply these methodologies and identify potentially undocumented levees in other areas. Knowing the existence and location of levees especially in developed areas will greatly assist risk communications and emergency responders.

Emergency Action Plan Guidebook and Templates

The Minnesota Silver Jackets Team, in association with the North Dakota Silver Jackets Team, FEMA, MN Homeland Security and Emergency Management, USACE EM, and the USACE Levee Safety CoP, developed this guide for small to medium sized communities and tribes as a way to develop and document the information they would need to have a safe and effective flood emergency response. Many communities rely on county and state all-hazard plans, but have not complied the critical information for their location-specific conditions. This is also an opportunity to record the institutional knowledge of those residents and public officials who have experienced local flood events. The St. Paul District, through Silver Jackets support, has been able to conduct local and regional workshops on how to develop these community level flood emergency action plans. All of the documents and fillable forms for the guidebook can be found at the following link: Guidebook (pdf, 4.6 MB).

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers supports state-led Silver Jackets Teams through its Flood Risk Management Program.