By Mr. Clayton Church (USACE)January 15, 2013
The iconic WWII recruiting poster of Uncle Sam pointing comes to mind when asking people to volunteer for possible deployment following a disaster. Recent events with tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes and even tsunamis demonstrate a continuing need to recruit talented individuals for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Planning and Response Teams. These teams provide assistance in time of disaster to help people recover and set a path to return to normalcy.
The team members for these PRTs come from every USACE district, division, center and organization. People with almost any skill set, background, training or specialty may be used. The main underlying factor is an individual with the proper skill sets for the particular team along with an attitude of flexibility tempered with patience and the ability to work with a team on a common mission.
These missions come primarily from the Federal Emergency Management Agency through Emergency Support Function #3, "Public Works and Engineering," one of 15 ESFs under the National Response Framework. Skill sets most desired for the teams and particular questions may be directed to your emergency management office or supervisor. Typical ESF#3 assistance provided by USACE includes the following:
- Needs Assessments: Participation in damage/needs assessments.
- Temporary Power: Provision of emergency power to public facilities.
- Ice and Water: Management and emergency contracting to support public health and safety, such as providing potable water and ice.
- Debris Management: Emergency debris clearance and removal and disposal management of debris from public property.
- Emergency Infrastructure Assessments: Assessments of damaged streets, bridges, ports, waterways, airfields and other facilities necessary for emergency access to disaster victims.
- Critical Public Facility Restorations: Emergency restoration of critical public facilities (including temporary restoration of water supplies and wastewater treatment systems).
- Demolition / Structural Stabilization: Emergency demolition or stabilization of damaged structures and facilities.
- Technical Assistance: Technical assistance including inspection of private residential structures and commercial structures.
Support to other ESF's: USACE also supports other ESFs. For example, USACE can be tasked to provide Temporary Housing and Temporary Roofing support to ESF#6 ,Mass Care, Housing and Human Services or Public Affairs support to ESF#15, External Affairs.
Now that you have some basic knowledge of a USACE PRT why would you want to consider being a member? One of the best ways to answer is to provide some comments overheard at recent Hurricane Sandy New York Recovery Field Office Hail and Farewells:
"I've had so many mentors, worked harder in one hour than ever before but then turned around and worked the next hour even harder."
"Awesome experience, awesome people. Able to network is probably best aspect."
"For those in the Recovery Field Office, find a way to get out into the field--tired and cold; get out there and see what they are going through."
"Love going out in the field and meeting everyone."
"Amazing effort by people moving forward--lots of areas of the Corps in one setting."
"Saw the RFO team come together and blessed to be able to see it come together for the people of New York."
Hurricane Sandy RFO Commander, Lt. Col. John Knight ended the farewell portion by saying, "Thank all you guys leaving-- you have done a really great job for this team and helping out the people of New York. Be safe, teach other people in your districts. Provide after action reports so that we can improve for the next disaster."
With your supervisor's approval, contact your emergency management office for the procedures to apply to be a member of a USACE PRT.
Army Civilian Corps Creed
I am an Army civilian -- a member of the Army team.
I am dedicated to our Army, our Soldiers and civilians.
I will always support the mission.
I provide stability and continuity during war and peace.
I support and defend the Constitution of the United States and consider it an honor to serve our nation and our Army.
I live the Army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage.
I am an Army civilian.