For Immediate Release

Kansas City, MO—The American Public Works Association will welcome more than 5,000 Public Works First Responders to its annual PWX conference, August 27-30, where readiness and resiliency in the face of natural disasters will be a keystone topic. Taking place in San Diego, an area recently impacted by Tropical Storm Hilary, the timing of this 4-day event provides a unique opportunity for APWA attendees to showcase in real time how their service as first responders impacts the quality of life for all.

“As public works officials, we are acutely aware of natural disasters and the toll they can take on a community. We know firsthand the devastating impact brought on by fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados, floods, and any number of other natural events. Our people are on the front lines protecting the public’s health, safety, and property before, during, and after these events. Public works brings normalcy back to impacted communities by clearing storm debris, restoring water and wastewater systems, repairing roadways, culverts, and bridges, restoring traffic signal systems, replacing signs, and so much more. We are proud to be first responders along with police, fire, and emergency medical personnel,” said APWA President Keith Pugh, PE, PWLF.

“While natural disasters such as Tropical Storm Hilary can be incredibly destructive and unpredictable, we are heartened to know that our biggest conference of the year will take place in San Diego starting this Sunday. We will have thousands of public works professionals in attendance who are also first responders. If the city of San Diego and neighboring communities need volunteer assistance with the cleanup, we will have the right people available to help,” said APWA CEO Scott D. Grayson, CAE.

PWX 2023 attendees will access a robust, multi-modal educational program that’s set to feature countless emergency management-related sessions among more than 170 educational sessions. This once-a-year gathering is the best opportunity to network with peers and hone leadership abilities, which allows public works professionals to respond more effectively when needed.

“Thankfully, early reports indicate that many parts of San Diego and surrounding areas fared well during Tropical Storm Hilary. Despite the less than expected wind and rainfall, the region’s public works crews are well-trained and well prepared to handle catastrophic events to minimize the impact to infrastructure and facilitate rapid recovery,” said Vic Bianes, APWA Board Member and PWX 2023 Host Committee Co-Chair.

It’s not just being ready to respond. Public works professionals are at the forefront of many infrastructure projects, such as the Los Angeles County Flood Control System, which play a significant role in mitigating damage to roads, drainage systems, and power grids by weather events.

“In my hometown of Lakewood, the streets have been designed to carry heavy rain to nearby flood control channels built by the Los Angeles County Flood Control District many years ago. As the rain lets up, the streets clear of water very quickly,” said Lisa Rapp, incoming APWA President-Elect, Board Member, and local resident of LA County. “The city’s public works crews prepare in advance by checking and cleaning all city facility roofs and have traffic control devices ready in the event that there is any localized flooding. The County also prepares by staging equipment around the region to be ready when needed, and they assist other municipal agencies in the County through mutual aid agreements.

For more information about PWX 2023, or public works’ role as first responders, email To find links and resources to response and recovery efforts already underway in areas affected by Tropical Storm Hilary, visit

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About APWA

The American Public Works Association ( is a not-for-profit, international organization of more than 32,000 members involved in the field of public works. APWA serves its members by promoting professional excellence and public awareness through education, advocacy, and the exchange of knowledge. APWA is headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, has an office in Washington, D.C., and more than 60 chapters and 90 branches in North America.


Jared Shilhanek
Chief Growth Officer
(816) 595-5257