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Emergency Operations

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been of service to this Nation for over 200 years. The Corps has responded during times of need with engineering, construction as well as water resources expertise. Because of the first hand knowledge of the local conditions throughout the United States, the Corps is able to play a major role in saving lives and easing human suffering when disasters occur.

This information has been produced in an effort to enhance public awareness of the Corps emergency preparedness mission. It provides a general outline of the programs, services, and contacts that are available in support of emergency operations procedures. Complete information on Corps programs and preparedness services may be obtained by contacting any of the district offices.

Vigilant in the face of emergency situations, the Corps stands ready to serve your community and the Nation when disasters strike. We invite you to participate with the Corps in developing an even stronger preparedness partnership that will strengthen our nation in times of need.

Overview

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is a major Army command with a broad set of missions and capabilities. One of its missions is to provide assistance, within its authorities, when natural disasters or other emergencies occur.

Emergency preparedness and response is primarily a state and local responsibility. However, in instances when the nature of the disaster exceeds the capabilities of state and local interests, the Corps of Engineers may provide help to save human life, prevent immediate human suffering or mitigate property damage.

The Corps gives emergency assistance top priority and provides immediate response using every resource and expedited procedure available. Assistance is limited to the preservation of life and protection of residential and commercial developments, to include public and private facilities that provide public services. Exclusive assistance to individual homeowners and businesses, including agricultural businesses, is not authorized. However, during periods of extreme drought, such assistance may be provided to farmers and ranchers under certain circumstances. Rehabilitation assistance may also be available for eligible flood control structures with public sponsors.

The geographically diverse location of Corps of Engineers offices nationwide assures an immediate response to disasters in any area. The Corps is divided by drainage basins into regional divisions. The divisions are subdivided by smaller drainage basins into districts. Personnel are also assigned to various field offices scattered throughout each district. During disasters, personnel in any locale may be quickly mobilized to assist in response and recovery work.

Emergency Operations Managers have been appointed to each division and district to carry out all emergency actions. Each is responsible for maintaining an emergency organization of trained specialists. Most important, however, each district has a single point of contact for all emergency activities.

You are encouraged to contact the Corps of Engineers office closest to your location for specific information concerning Corps programs and to accomplish joint planning, training, and information exchange opportunities.

 

Our Programs

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is prepared to provide immediate and effective response and assistance during emergencies and disasters. The preparedness program includes an emergency management organization, planning, training, maintaining adequate supplies, tools and equipment, and inspection program for non-Federal flood control structures.

Type of Assistance Provided by the Corps

  • Participation in emergency seminars and exercises when requested by state or local officials
  • Inspection of flood control works constructed or repaired by the Corps of Engineers, and advisement to local officials of needed maintenance
  • Technical assistance for development of plans at the state and local level
  • Upon request, inspection of non-Federal dams and flood control projects

Criteria for Corps of Engineers Assistance

State and local governments are responsible for emergency preparedness, including training and stockpiling of flood fighting supplies and materials. The role of the Corps of Engineers is to supplement the maximum efforts of the state and local authorities during an emergency.

How to Obtain Help

Contact the Corps of Engineers District Office nearest you.

The corps of Engineers may provide emergency assistance for flood response and post flood response activities to save lives and protect improved property (i.e., public facilities/services and residential/commercial developments) during or following a flood or coastal storm. Assistance to individual homeowners and businesses is not permitted. This includes agricultural lands.

 

Emergency Operations assistance will be undertaken to supplement state and local efforts. Non-Federal interests must commit all available resources. This includes manpower, supplies, equipment, funds, etc.

Flood fighting measures are applicable to any flood control structures or other areas that provide public service, regardless of whether it is Federal, public or private.

The Corps has no authority under Public Law 84-99 to reimburse locals for costs of their own emergency activities.

FLOOD RESPONSE

Type of Assistance Provided by the Corps

  • Assist in search and rescue operations
  • Furnish technical advice and assistance
  • Provide emergency repairs to levees and other flood control projects
  • Furnish materials such as sandbags, polyethylene sheeting, lumber, pumps, or rock for stabilization when the Corps is actively participating in a flood fight
  • If the Corps is not actively participating in a flood fight, Government supplies may be furnished only if local resources are exhausted or will be exhausted. Under such circumstances, supplies will be replaced in kind or paid for by local interests. All unused stock should be returned or reimbursed to the Government at replacement cost.

Duration of Assistance

Corps assistance terminates when the emergency is over (i.e., flood waters have receded within top bank or some other predetermined stage). Authority to perform activities immediately after a flood or coastal storm is provided by Public Law 84-99, as amended. 
 

POST FLOOD RESPONSE

Authority to perform post flood activities immediately after a flood or coastal storm is provided by Public Law 84-99, as amended. Corps assistance must be required immediately and is limited to major flood or coastal storm disasters resulting in life-threatening or property-damaging situations.

Type of Assistance Provided by the Corps

  • Furnish technical advice and assistance
  • Clearance of drainage channels, bridge openings, or structures blocked by debris deposited during the event
  • Clearance of blockages of critical water supply intakes and sewer outfalls
  • Debris removal necessary to reopen vital transportation routes
  • Temporary restoration of critical public services or facilities
  • Identify hazard mitigation opportunities

Duration of Assistance

Corps of Engineers assistance may only be provided for a maximum of 10 days from the date of receipt of the governor's written request for assistance.

Criteria for Corps of Engineers Assistance

  • Assistance must be supplemental to state and local efforts
  • Requires written request from the governor or his authorized representative for flood response activities
  • Corps policy requires local interests to furnish the following items of cooperation and assurances prior to the undertaking of any work: (1) provide without cost to the United States all lands, easements, and rights-of-way necessary; (2) hold and save the United States free of damaged due to the authorized work, exclusive of damages due to the fault or negligence of the United States or its contractor; and (3) if feasible, operate and maintain the emergency work or remove temporary work constructed by the Corps.

How to Obtain Help

Contact your local officials who in turn will contact the State Office of Emergency Services or equivalent and, if required, the state will contact the Corps of Engineers.

The Corps of Engineers may rehabilitate (1) flood control structures damaged or destroyed by floods, and (2) Federally authorized and constructed hurricane or shore protection structures damaged or destroyed by wind, wave, or water action of other than an ordinary nature.

Type of Assistance Provided by the Corps

  • Repair or restoration of a flood control structure to its pre-disaster condition

Criteria for Corps of Engineers Assistance

  • Requests for rehabilitation assistance must be for a publicly sponsored project
  • Rehabilitation projects for non-Federal flood control works will be cost shared at 80 percent Federal and 20 percent from the public sponsor
  • The proposed rehabilitation project must have a favorable benefit-cost ratio
  • Deficient or deferred project maintenance outstanding when damage occurs will be accomplished by or at the expense of the sponsor either prior to or concurrent with authorized rehabilitation assistance
  • Corps policy requires the public sponsor to furnish the following items of cooperation and assurance prior to undertaking any work: (1) provide without cost to the United States all lands, easements, and rights-of-way necessary; (2) hold and save the United States free from damages due to work, exclusive of damages due to negligence of the United States or its contractor; and (3) maintain and operate, in a manner satisfactory to the Chief of Engineers, the entire project after completion.

How to Obtain Help

Contact a Corps of Engineers District Office directly.

The Corps of Engineers, within specific guidelines, is authorized to provide emergency water assistance to any community confronted with water supply problems associated with drought conditions or a contaminated source if there is a substantial threat to the public health and welfare of the inhabitants in the area.

DROUGHT ASSISTANCE

The intent of the emergency water program is to provide temporary emergency water assistance to meet minimum public health, safety, and welfare requirements. Evaluations of request for assistance are to be tempered by the fact that Corps assistance is temporary and supplemental to state and local efforts. Long-term solutions to water supply problems remain the responsibility of state and local interest.

Type of Assistance Provided by the Corps

  • Transportation of water by vehicles, small diameter pipelines, or other means for human and livestock consumption
  • Construction of wells

Criteria for Corps of Engineers Assistance

  • Written request from the governor or his authorized representative
  • The area is drought distressed and found to have an inadequate water supply which is causing, or is likely to cause, substantial threat to the health and welfare of the inhabitants of the area, including threat of damage or loss of property
  • State and/or local interests should have: (1) a drought emergency declaration from the state or other appropriate authority; (2) utilize all available state and local resources to include funds, manpower, and equipment such as National Guard trucks to haul water; (3) instituted mandatory water conservation measures; (4) prioritized use of available water. Human and livestock consumption and sanitary needs take priority over industrial processes and irrigation of crops; (5) established minimum requirements for public health and welfare; and (6) initiated a long-term solution.

CONTAMINATED WATER ASSISTANCE

The Corps of Engineers is authorized to provide clean water to communities with contaminated water supplies that represent a substantial threat to the public health and welfare. Contamination may have resulted from deliberate, accidental or natural events, including flooding.

Type of Assistance Provided by the Corps

  • Provide water tank trucks to haul water from a safe source to the point established for local distribution
  • Procurement and distribution of bottled water
  • Temporary connection of a new supply to the existing distribution system
  • Installation of temporary filtration system
  • Provide mobile military purification units

Criteria for Corps of Engineers Assistance

  • A written request for assistance is required from the governor of the state and/or authorized representative
  • State and local governments must fully utilize their own resources, including National Guard capabilities

Duration of Assistance

The Corps assistance normally will be temporary to meet the immediate threat. Assistance is limited to 30 days, or until the Federal Emergency Management Agency undertakes the provision of emergency water under its own authorities, whichever is earlier.

How to Obtain Help

Contact your local political representative so they may inform the state governor's office. The governor must ask the Corps to provide assistance. For Indian tribal lands, the Bureau of Indian Affairs will normally submit the request for assistance.

Advance measures prior to predicted flooding consist of those activities performed to protect against loss of life and damage to improved property from flooding. There must be an imminent threat of flooding present before advance measures can be considered. The threat must be of a nature that if action is not taken immediately, damages will be incurred.

Type of Assistance Provided by the Corps

  • Strengthening of Federal and non-Federal flood control structures
  • Construction of temporary levees to protect life and improved property. Removal of these structures is a local responsibility
  • Channel clearance and dredging of Federal projects to restore original design capacity
  • Relieving threat of flooding from possible dam failures by dewatering the impoundment, controlled breaching or strengthening of the structure

Criteria for Corps of Engineers Assistance

  • An imminent threat of unusual flooding must exist. The threat must be established by National Weather Service forecasts or by Corps determinations of unusual flooding from adverse conditions
  • A written request from the governor for Corps assistance is required. Request must be technically feasible and economically justified
  • Advance measures assistance will be in support of state and local on-going or planned efforts. Non-Federal interests must commit all available resources (i.e., manpower, supplies, equipment, funds, etc.)

How to Obtain Help

Contact you local political representatives so they may inform the state governor's office.

Federal Response Plan

In addition to our emergency authorities, the Corps also has a primary role in support of the Federal Response Plan. The Plan describes the basic structures by which the Federal government will mobilize resources and conduct activities to assist states in coping with the consequences of significant disasters.

Within this Plan, the Department of Defense (DoD) has designated the United States Army Corps of Engineers as the primary agency for planning, preparedness, and response under the Emergency Support Function (ESF #3), Public Works, and Engineering.

Each Corps office develops plans based on hazards unique to their area, coordinates with appropriate agencies and identifies response teams to support the assigned missions in the Federal Response Plan. Training and exercises are conducted frequently to ensure the readiness of emergency team members when the Federal Response Plan is activated. (When the Federal Response Plan is implemented, the Corps will continue to provide the emergency assistance programs described in the pamphlet.)

Type of Assistance Provided by ESF #3, Public Works, and Engineering

  • Technical advice and evaluations
  • Engineering services
  • Construction management and inspection
  • Emergency contracting
  • Emergency repair of wastewater and solid waste facilities
  • Real estate support

Some of the activities within the scope of ESF #3 include emergency clearance of debris, restoration of critical public services and facilities, including supply of adequate amounts of potable water, temporary restoration of water supply systems, technical assistance, structural evaluation of buildings, and damage assessment.

How to Obtain Additional Information

For additional information on ESF #3 and the Corps roles in Federal response, contact a Corps of Engineers office directly.