USACE conducts emergency preparedness exercises around New York City
August 31, 2009
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers New York District works with local emergency management officials to coordinate preparedeness exercises.
- After disasters, the 249th Engineering Battalion helps communities get emergency power to critical facilities.
- 249th Engineering Battalion performs hundreds of power pre-assessments at critical facilities throughout the tri-state area.
Soldiers from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' 249th Engineering Battalion (Prime Power) recently spent two weeks working directly with New York District and local emergency management agencies in the tri-state area performing assessments of the power needs at critical facilities that might need emergency generators in the event of a large natural or non-natural disaster in the future as part of emergency preparedness exercises.
Following major disasters, Soldiers from the 249th Engineering Battalion assist communities by helping to provide temporary emergency power at facilities critical to life-saving, life sustaining and maintaining command and control while the regular power companies work on restoring the area's commercial power grid.
They do this by assessing the power needs and specifications at the facilities, which are chosen and prioritized by local officials, so that appropriate generators (owned by the Federal Emergency Management Agency) can then be installed.
For the two weeks of exercises, six teams made up of two Soldiers (often each accompanied by a local emergency management official) performed assessments at critical facilities in New Jersey, Connecticut, Westchester and Suffolk counties in New York and New York City, completing more than 300. This information will be stored to potentially be used in the event of a future disaster, which could help speed up response efforts.
The assessment process can often be a tedious one, involving a lot of traveling through large disaster-struck areas, which is why exercises like the August one are important - they provide invaluable information that is stored ahead of time in databases and is ready to be used in the event of emergency.
"The exercise was very important as it provided a great training opportunity for the 249th Engineering Battalion and at the same time allowed local jurisdictions in three states to improve their preparedness so that all agencies will be more efficient and effective during the time of an event," said New York District's Donald Cresitello, project manager for the exercises. "The exercise also provided a great team building opportunity for the Federal Government and the emergency management agencies in all three states."
Among other things, the pre-assessments include information on how much power a facility would need to operate, where a temporary generator could be placed and what all would be needed to properly hook up the temporary generator to power the facility's critical functions.
This information is then all stored in a database and is shared with the local authorities, so it can be used in the event of a disaster in the future that would lead to a need for temporary emergency power.
The exercises also serve other important purposes, said Sgt. 1st Class Emigdio Pineda, a Black Lion that came to the tri-state area for the exercises.
"It gives the Soldiers a chance to refresh their skills," Pineda said.
He also said, along with getting a refresher on the basics of electrical school, it promotes emergency preparedness among the facilities and their managers.