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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continues support to Sandy response efforts

November 6th, 2012

It’s already been a week since Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast…we have never seen devastation of this scope in the Northeast.  Our hearts go out to the residents, including our Corps team members, whose lives and properties have been affected. 

 

SACE has more than 3000 employees from the North Atlantic Division with an additional 650 people deployed from other USACE divisions across the Nation engaged to support the response mission.Currently, USACE has more than 38 FEMA Mission Assignments exceeding a total of $134 million. 

 

Through FEMA’s National Response Framework, we are a part of the larger team effort that extends through all levels of governments – local, state, and federal, as well as non-governmental partners and volunteers.  The team is committed to bringing all available resources to quickly support those affected and to reduce the long-term impacts from this devastating storm. 

 

Over this past week, I’ve gone to New York and New Jersey to see first-hand the devastation there and meet with our amazing teams working on the ground.  They are doing an incredible job! 

 

USACE priorities continue to be temporary emergency power, de-watering at requested locations, debris removal and disaster recovery missions, and conducting post-storm site assessments.

  • We’re providing temporary power in multiple states with nearly 80 generator installations, and the requests continue to come in.  We have more than 300 generators staged at forward locations for these missions and have completed some 355 power assessments. 
  • We’re dewatering 14 critical locations in New York and New Jersey, as determined by local officials.  Between USACE and the local teams, we’ve completed pumping at seven locations.
  • We’ve deployed two USACE Infrastructure Assessment teams from Seattle and Buffalo Districts to begin their work.
  • Our debris teams are in ports, waterways and coastal areas in New Jersey and New York clearing debris along the Atlantic seaboard and getting commercial ports reopened.  Within the next 48 hours we will have 35 debris teams on the ground. 
  • Other Planning Response Teams are also assisting with debris management, commodities distribution, infrastructure assessment, temporary roofing, critical public facilities, water planning, and temporary housing. 
  • And, with the threat of more severe weather forecasted later this week, we’re also focused on repairing breaches and significant damage to coastal and shore protection projects in the area. 

As we transition from response to recovery, I am confident that the Soldiers and Civilians of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will continue to support the federal government’s response efforts in the Northeast as long as we are needed.  I am very proud to lead an extraordinary team of professionals dedicated to serving the Nation and their fellow citizens. 

 

Essayons…Building Strong…Army Strong!

  Thomas P. Bostick

Lieutenant General, US Army

Commanding

LTG Bostick inspects flooded infrastructure in NJ

USACE Commanding General LTG Thomas P. Bostick inspects flooded infrastructure in New Jersey. (USACE Photo by Mary Markos)

 

Emergency Response

Corps helps communities recover and rebuild

February 16th, 2012

Corps of Engineers Quality Assurance Inspector Steve Hart (left) discusses the private property debris removal operation with QA Supervisor Glen Locke (right) June 21 at a home site near the Joplin High School, which can be seen in the background.

According to recent information from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2011 was a record year for weather/climate disasters, with the highest number of events exceeding $1 billion in damages since 1980. Last year there were three times more disaster declarations than in a normal year, including tornadoes and severe spring storms, significant flooding throughout much of the country, Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.

This meant that it was also a year which tested the Corps’ disaster response capabilities, with personnel and teams responding to 22 events worldwide in 2011, the busiest year for the program since 2005, when Hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck the Gulf Coast. USACE spent approximately $1 billion on emergency operations this year.

In 2011, some 2,400 USACE personnel and 22 Planning and Response Teams (PRT) deployed in support of FEMA and the National Response Framework. Their missions included temporary power, debris removal, installation of concrete pads for temporary housing units, and temporary replacement of critical public facilities such as schools, health clinics and fire stations.

The districts in our Mississippi Valley Division and Northwest Division were also heavily engaged throughout most of the past year managing record high water levels along the Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Red and Souris rivers, for a much longer duration than normal. Our flood risk reduction systems were operated at their maximum capacity, some for the first time ever. The systems performed as designed, and thousands of communities were spared. We are working now to make necessary repairs and restore these systems to their original operating capacities.

Whether operating in the aftermath of floodwaters, tornados, hurricanes or any other disaster, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is a vital part of the federal team helping communities recover and rebuild.

Civil Works, Emergency Response

Small businesses a vital part of the team

December 12th, 2011

Maj. Gen. Merdith W.B. (Bo) Temple addresses the audience at the 2011 SAME Small Business Conference in Washington, D.C.

Did you know that small businesses in the U.S. represent 99 percent of all employer firms, and employ about half of all private sector employees? Small businesses have generated 65 percent of the net new jobs over the past 17 years, and hire 43 percent of high tech workers, including scientists, engineers, computer programmers and others.

The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) understands the importance of small businesses. In Fiscal Year 2011, 42.5 percent of all USACE contract obligations were awarded to small businesses at a total value of $8.1 billion. I am very proud that our teams not only met but exceeded our assigned goals this year in every category, including awards to Small Disadvantaged, Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned, Women-Owned and HUBZone businesses.

Recently, Corps leaders and our hard-working acquisition professionals, as well as their counterparts from other Department of Defense (DOD) agencies, participated in the Society of Military Engineers’ annual Small Business Conference for DOD Engineering, Construction and Environmental Programs. This event and others like it offer small businesses vital information and training to prepare them to work with the government, while allowing us to learn how their companies can help the Corps serve the military and the Nation.

If you take a look back at what the Corps has accomplished over the past year, you will see clearly the importance of our small business and industry partners. After five years of intense effort, we met our commitments to deliver $11 billion of Base Realignment and Closure projects to our military customers and provide 100-year risk reduction to the citizens of New Orleans with the massive $14 billion Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System. Our teams were on the ground this year helping communities recover from tornadoes and hurricanes and managing historic flooding throughout much of the country. Where the Corps has served our Nation, small businesses have played a vital role. The same is true overseas, where we are reaching out and working with local contractors in Europe, Asia and Afghanistan to build Host Nation Capacity.

It takes the whole team – USACE and our federal partners, state and local agencies, tribal nations, special interest groups, academia and industry – to deliver sustainable engineering solutions and the Small Business community is a very important part of our success.

Afghanistan, Civil Works, Contingency Operations, Contracting, Emergency Response, Gulf Coast Recovery, Iraq, Military Programs, Partnership, Small Business

Preparing for Hurricane Earl

September 2nd, 2010

As I write this, powerful Hurricane Earl is spinning in the Atlantic Ocean with winds of more than 125 mph, just off the coast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.  According to the experts at the National Hurricane Center, it’s expected to follow the coast up into Canada over the next several days. Although the storm remains offshore for now, hurricane watches and warnings have been issued for coastal areas along nearly the entire eastern seaboard.  As a precaution, some towns have ordered evacuations to ensure the safety and security of their residents. 

Click to watch Hurricane Earl move up the Atlantic Coast, thanks to our friends at NOAA.

The Corps is also preparing to respond in the event of a disaster, and we are putting many of our emergency management personnel on alert and have pre-positioned some of our personal along the Atlantic Coast.  Our role in any event like this is to assist the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA by coordinating and organizing public works and engineering-related support. Our response teams are available to support debris removal, purchase and delivery of essential commodities like water and ice, as well as to provide temporary emergency power, temporary housing, temporary roofing, infrastructure assessment, and support to urban search and rescue missions. 

I pray that Earl stays its course and heads away from the coast.  But should it decide to change course for the worse, our teams are standing by, ready to serve! 

Preparedness is a shared responsibility.  For tips on what you and your family can do to prepare for a hurricane, click here: http://www.ready.gov/america/beinformed/hurricanes.html 

Best, 

Van 

BUILDING STRONG®

Emergency Response ,

Corps Works with Interagency Response Team on Oil Spill

June 1st, 2010

From the beginning of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has worked closely with other national agencies, the States and others in response to this incident. The environmental consequences of this disaster are expected to be unmatched and unprecedented.

Recently, Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority submitted an application requesting emergency authorization for a restoration project that could enhance the capability of some barrier islands to reduce the inland movement of oil from the spill site. Col. Al Lee, New Orleans District commander, approved the emergency permit to Louisiana for portions of this barrier island plan.

For more information about this permit decision please check out:
http://www.mvn.usace.army.mil/news/view.asp?ID=341

Assisting the nation in a time of disaster is something the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has always done and we stand ready to assist now, and in the future.

Emergency Response, Environment/Sustainability, Regulatory , , , ,

Bracing for Hurricane Season

May 5th, 2010

The word is out. Hurricane Season on the Atlantic is supposed to be a doozy this year. Yesterday’s article in Business Week forecasts 14 to 18 named storms this year. The article quotes the National Hurricane Center stats that the average is “11 named storms with winds of at least 39 mph, six of them reaching the 74-mph threshold for hurricanes and two growing into major storms with winds of 111 mph or more.”

Last year, we caught a break, with the fewest named storms in 12 years. Only three were officially hurricanes, and none of reached land in the U.S. We are prepared and ready for a much more active hurricane season this year.

You may ask yourself, “why is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers involved in Hurricane Season?”  Well, we are part of the federal government’s unified national response to disasters and emergencies.  The Corps assists the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA by coordinating and organizing public works and engineering-related support. We have 49 specially trained response teams ready to perform a wide range of missions, as assigned by FEMA.

We prepare for our missions well before disasters occur.  In preparation for the 2010 hurricane season, we’ve conducted several hurricane exercises – both internally and with local, state and federal agencies – across our organization.

When disasters occur, it is not just a local Corps district or office that responds. Personnel and other resources are mobilized across the country to carry out our response missions.

In any disaster, our top priorities are:

1.    Support immediate emergency response priorities;
2.    Sustain lives with critical commodities, temporary emergency power and other needs; and,
3.    Initiate recovery efforts by assessing and restoring critical infrastructure.

I’d like to just take a moment to emphasize that the risk reduction measures out there, levees and floodwalls, etc., are not “protection.” There’s no such thing as “protection” in a disaster – natural or man-made.  But there are a lot of things we can do to reduce our risk, and that is a shared responsibility – shared between the many public agencies involved, but also shared with you.

Check out FEMA’s Ready Campaign, the federal government’s official readiness campaign site. Another great tool is the “Ready Army” website for specific details about what you can do to prepare. The site was designed for making sure the Army’s workforce and Family members are prepared, but the information is applicable to anyone.

Be smart. Be safe. Be prepared.

Emergency Response

Spring Flooding: So Far, So Good

March 24th, 2010

You may have seen the news that so far, the situation is stable in the Midwest, and we had a major flood with minimal damage in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota – despite extremely high water levels and lots of snow melt.  I’m really proud of the tremendous efforts we’ve had, alongside our state and local partners, in preparing for potential flooding in those areas.

Right now, we have 116 USACE personnel engaged in the Midwest; we’ve handed out 320,500 sandbags, 37 pumps, and a little over 5 miles of HESCO Bastion, which is a large metal and mesh structure used to temporarily make levees taller. We have also installed numerous miles of temporary levees, which are reducing the risk of flooding throughout North Dakota.

Here’s a video story that can help you understand what we’re dealing with in the Midwest right now:



All these emergency preparations were ironically underway right in the middle of Flood Safety Awareness Week, so I’d like to take a moment to share with you some important information about flooding – because it’s not just a Midwest issue, at all.

Flooding is the most common, costly and deadly natural disaster in the United States each year.  Because of an unusually wet and snowy winter, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is anticipating particularly harsh spring floods for much of the country this year.  It’s important that you be prepared for possible flooding and do what you can to protect your family, home and property. Preparedness is important even if you don’t live in high-risk flood areas.     

There are a number of things you can do to better prepare for flooding and reduce your risks.  Check out this Web site – www.Ready.gov  – for some great, useful information.

Emergency Response, Levees

Help for Haiti

January 15th, 2010

The devastation in Haiti is, in a word, heartbreaking. I hope that you’ll join Paula and me in praying for the people of that nation, for those around the world who are still awaiting word on their loved ones, and for the thousands of volunteers, rescue teams, aid workers and service members who are there, or on their way to help.

At the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, we are gearing up and ready to support as needed. We are plugged into the State Dept., USAID, Federal Emergency Management Agency and US Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) and are ready to assist however any of those organizations need us.

We do have four engineers deploying today to support, 1 civil, 1 structural, 1 electrical, 1 hydrological. We also have two 8-person teams from our South Atlantic Division office who are on alert and prepared to deploy. That office has also identified and is preparing additional structural engineers for possible deployment.

In addition, we’ve alerted the 249th Engineer Battalion, which provides emergency power, to be ready to go on a moment’s notice, and have our best subject matter experts for commodities, infrastructure, navigation and debris removal standing by, as well.

So many people are looking for a way to help, and if you would like to give, I encourage you to go to USAID’s website for a list of ways you can make a difference.

This situation will continue to develop in the coming days, weeks and months – and I am sure that our role will continue to grow. I’ll keep you posted…

Contingency Operations, Emergency Response, International and Interagency Services , ,

Are You Ready or Are You READY?

September 11th, 2009
Here at USACE, we fulfill a vital mission in our response to a variety of emergencies. We spend a lot of time, money and effort preparing, so that we are ready to act when people find themselves in harm’s way.

What is true for our organization in planning for disasters, applies personally to everyone. Now is the time to plan for the unimaginable. Planning protects what you hold dear and reduces the potential for devastating losses.

September is National Preparedness Month, a nationwide effort sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s READY Campaign in partnership with Citizen Corps. We are taking part in this nationwide effort to encourage individuals, families and communities to prepare for emergencies… so I wanted to use this forum to encourage you to do the same.

This year, National Preparedness Month is focusing on changing perceptions about emergency preparedness, and will help Americans understand what it truly means to be READY. Preparedness goes beyond fire alarms, smoke detectors, dead-bolt locks and extra food in the pantry. Being READY includes: getting an emergency supply kit; making a family emergency plan; being informed about emergencies and their appropriate responses; and getting involved in community efforts such as Citizen Corps.

There are simple steps you can take to better prepare yourself and your family. I encourage you to take a look at the family emergency plan template and emergency supply kit checklist available at www.ready.gov and for more information. I also encourage you to visit www.citizencorps.gov to explore ways that you can get involved in your community.

By taking a few simple steps now, each of us can make sure we are better prepared for the next emergency or disaster.

Emergency Response , , , , ,

Flood Fighting on the Red River

March 31st, 2009

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continues to be fully engaged in the flood fighting efforts in the Upper Midwest our Nation. As our Soldiers and Civilians work around the clock, our thoughts are with the many families who have been impacted by this event.

We are doing everything we can to help cope with the rising waters. Our folks on the ground have been working very closely with the local, state and federal agencies to help protect communities in North Dakota and Minnesota in the Red River Basin. Beginning in the recent weeks leading up to the flooding, we have supplied nearly 10 million sandbags, more than 101 water pumps and overseen the construction of several miles of emergency levees and emergency levee raises to support the fight against rising waters. We currently have 170 Corps employees engaged in this response, including 10 Soldiers from our 249th Engineer Battalion who are working to supply emergency power to the region.

While the National Weather Service has announced that the water level has crested in one of the areas facing the most danger, Fargo, N.D., and Moorhead, Minn., the danger has yet to pass. It will be days before the waters recede back to below flood stage levels, which is why engineers, officials and volunteers are all keeping a close watch on the emergency levees and sandbag levees that are being put under a tremendous strain as they hold back the waters of the Red River.

We will to continue to work with local, state and federal officials to do all we can to assist the residents of these impacted communities.

Emergency Response, Levees , , , ,