Under the National Response Framework, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is assigned as the primary agency for Emergency Support Function #3 – Public Works and Engineering. The Corps assists the Department of Homeland Security/FEMA by coordinating federal public works and engineering-related support, as well as providing technical assistance, engineering expertise, and construction management to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and/or recover from domestic incidents.
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Temporary replacement of critical public facilities, such as classrooms, health clinics, fire and EMS stations, and other public service facilities, as requested by FEMA.
In cases where the damage and debris are so extensive that it exceeds local and state capabilities, FEMA can assign the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers a mission to provide debris management assistance in support of the National Response Framework.
There are no “typical” debris management missions, but generally, there are 3 types of FEMA mission assignments:
1. Direct Federal Assistance—The Corps undertakes the debris management mission, as assigned by FEMA. Direct Federal Assistance missions may consist of one or more of the following tasks:
• Right of Way Debris Removal
• Emergency Clearance
• Private Property Debris Removal
• Debris Removal from Drainage Structures
• Waterway Debris
2. Technical Assistance—The Corps provides assistance to local governments in developing debris removal contracts and assisting with environmental issues, as well as training and coordination of FEMA and local government debris monitors.
3. Federal Operations Support—The Corps provides oversight for FEMA of state and local debris operations.
Manage structural safety assessments of commercial and residential structures, as well as the assessments of infrastructure systems, such as water and waste water treatment.
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 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.
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)
Following a natural disaster or emergency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can provide state and local officials with a variety of support regarding emergency power needs at critical public facilities in support of FEMA as part of the federal government’s unified national response under the National Response Framework.
The Corps has Emergency Power Planning and Response Teams throughout the country with the capability to deploy and provide support ranging from technical expertise to “turn key” installation of emergency generators at critical public facilities, such as hospitals and shelters.
The Emergency Power PRTs work closely with the 249th Engineer Battalion, who provides technical expertise and performs assessments to determine the generator required at each facility, as well as, the connection materials required at critical public facilities during emergencies.
The Emergency Power PRTs work closely with FEMA, the Department of Energy, local and state entites, and contractors to execute this mission.
Following a natural disaster or emergency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can manage the installation of temporary housing for FEMA as part of the federal government’s unified national response. When an event has left large numbers of existing homes uninhabitable, FEMA can assign a temporary housing mission to the Corps of Engineers.
Temporary housing missions can be wide ranging and may include technical assistance to FEMA and/or their contractors, placing pre-fabricated units on private property or existing mobile home parks, as well as design and construction of new group mobile home sites, to include the necessary infrastructure and placement of units.
The scope of the temporary roofing mission can be very broad and complex. The mission can range from providing technical assistance to FEMA, and state and local governments, to managing and contracting for the installation of blue plastic sheeting onto roofs of damaged homes or public structures (Operation Blue Roof). FEMA usually tasks the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers when all other resources have been exhausted.
Operation Blue Roof
Operation Blue Roof is managed by the Corps for FEMA. The purpose of Operation Blue Roof is to provide homeowners in disaster areas with fiber-reinforced plastic sheeting to cover their damaged roofs until arrangements can be made for permanent repairs. Operation Blue Roof protects property, reduces temporary housing costs, and allows residents to remain in their homes while recovering from the storm. This is a free service to homeowners; however, there may be a cost to local and state governments.
Operation Blue Roof is for primary residences or permanently occupied rental properties with less than 50 percent structural damage. Vacation rental properties are not eligible for the program. Once the blue roof is installed, the structure must be habitable. Not all roof types qualify for the program. Roofs that are flat or made of clay, slate or asbestos tile do not qualify. All storm debris must be removed for the roof to qualify.
Structures Specialists serve a vital function to the Task Force. They design shoring systems to stabilize structures for rescuers to gain safe access to those who are trapped. These specialists evaluate the immediate structural conditions at the incident and recommend the appropriate hazard mitigation.
The Corps Structures Specialists Cadre is comprised of USACE personnel with at least 5 years of engineering experience consisting of structural design and basic construction techniques for wood, masonry, concrete, and steel. The Structures Specialists are trained in Rescue Systems 1 (a basic rescue skills course). They also receive instruction in structural collapse patterns, hazard identification and building monitoring, rapid assessment of buildings, building triage and marking systems, advance shoring and shoring calculations. Mission durations are short, usually 6 to 10 days.