Following a natural disaster or emergency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can manage the procurement of critical commodities, like packaged ice and bottled water, for the FEMA as part of the federal government’s unified national response. The Corps has eleven specially trained National Ice, National Water, and Combined Commodity planning and response teams that are ready to deploy throughout the country to carry out the mission during emergency response operations.
State and local authorities, with support from FEMA, are responsible for the actual distribution of the commodities to the residents of the impacted areas.
Because it is a very labor intensive operation, the Corps can provide assistance and guidance with the distribution, if asked. Also, the Corps can provide other technical assistance regarding the distribution of these critical commodities, including advance planning and preparedness exercises, assessing emergency water and ice requirements, determining requirements and optimal locations for staging and distribution sites, coordination of transportation resources and training for distribution site staffs.
The Corps worked with FEMA and several states to develop several new, user-friendly tools to enhance state and local capability to stand up and operate Points of Distribution (POD) during and immediately after disaster events. The products include a new independent study course, a video and guide, which can be accessed at http://training.fema.gov/EMIWeb/IS/is26.asp.
Key Points on the Ice and Water Missions
- Through contract support, the Corps of Engineers can deliver packaged ice in 5- to 20-pound bags and bottled water in 12oz to 1.5 liter bottles, delivered in tractor-trailer loads. The Corps can also arrange for the ice and water to be transported to one or more delivery sites within 24 to 72 hours within the continental U.S.
- Generally speaking, these are the figures regarding ice and water and how many people they serve:
- Ice: 1 truckload = 40,000 lbs. and serves 5,000 people (8 lbs./person/day)
- Water: 1 truckload = 18,000 liters and serves 5,000 people (3+ liters/person/day)
- During Hurricanes Ike and Gustav, the Corps delivered 1,696 truckloads of bottled water, 1,180 truckloads of ice, and supported 121 PODs in Texas and Louisiana.