FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, under the leadership of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is deploying teams to American Samoa in response to the Sept. 29 earthquake and subsequent tsunami, in support of President Barack Obama's major-disaster declaration there.

Nationwide USACE Planning and Response Teams (PRT) and subject-matter experts are in American Samoa to provide assistance, while others are en route or preparing for the emergency situation.

The Corps' Honolulu District has deployed team members with expertise in handling debris, emergency power support and water systems to American Samoa. They are helping assess and evaluate the extent of the damage and working with the local American Samoa government to assist with repair plans.

The management cell of Honolulu District's Emergency Power PRT is joining 15 Soldiers from the 249th Engineer Battalion (Prime Power) in American Samoa. This team will oversee the installation of FEMA generators at critical life-saving and life-sustaining public facilities like shelters, sewer and water treatment plants or emergency management and response facilities, like police and fire stations and medical facilities.

Honolulu District has established a Reception, Staging, Onward Movement and Integration center (RSOI) at Fort Shafter, Hawaii, to coordinate transportation, lodging, training and integration of all Corps responders nationwide deploying to Samoa, Guam, the Philippines and Indonesia for this event and others.

Honolulu District engineers and project managers are working with project sponsors in American Samoa to gather initial damage assessments by using satellite imagery to augment on-scene evaluations. Among the areas to be assessed are shore protection projects, small boat harbors and flood control projects. If any of these projects have been damaged, Honolulu District employees will conduct an engineering evaluation of the damage for possible government rehabilitation.

With several other potential weather or nature-related events possible in the near future, additional Corps PRTs have been alerted and are on standby for deployments in the Pacific region.

FEMA is the lead agency for coordinating government response to natural disasters. USACE PRTs provide essential support for Emergency Support Function (ESF)-3 under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's National Response Framework. Each Corps district has at least one PRT dedicated to one of the seven ESF-3 response tasks: ice, water, emergency power, debris removal, temporary housing, temporary roofing and structural safety assessment.

Page last updated Fri September 30th, 2011 at 11:51