Corps of Engineers deploys aid to Puerto Rico

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin

March 28–Humanitarian work continues in Puerto Rico, where 19 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Walla Walla District employees deployed this past week to support Federal Emergency Management Agency’s hurricane-recovery efforts.

Hurricane Maria ravaged Dominica and Puerto Rico between Sept. 16-Oct. 2, doing an estimated $91.6 billion in damage, according to 60 sources for an article on Wikipedia.

The work after 183 days on March 22 includes 99.9 percent completed temporary blue roof installs on 59,469 eligible structures; 96 percent temporary emergency power with 2,057 tasks complete out of 2,149 total sites; 96 percent completed debris management for 21 out of 55 municipalities completed and 3.75 million cubic yards out of 3.9 million cubic yards assigned.

Most customers in the island’s regions are seeing 93.4 percent restoration to their power as the grid is repaired, except for Caguas, which stood at 73 percent customers with power.

The Corps has 496 personnel on the ground in Puerto Rico

Fifteen of the Walla Walla District Corps volunteers deployed with its temporary emergency power response team to support FEMA’s nonfederal generator operations and maintenance mission. Four volunteered to provide support to FEMA’s power grid restoration mission.

District emergency management officials added that a safety and occupational health specialist deployed to support FEMA’s California wildfire recovery mission in Sonoma County in the wake of the October fires; and two engineers with expertise in cost estimation are providing reach-back support to FEMA missions from their offices in the District Headquarters in Walla Walla.

The volunteers come from duty locations around the District, including Walla Walla Headquarters; Ice Harbor Lock and Dam near Burbank; McNary Lock and Dam near Umatilla; Little Goose Lock and Dam near Starbuck; Lower Monumental Lock and Dam near Kahlotus; Dworshak Dam and Reservoir near Ahsahka, Idaho; and Lucky Peak Dam and Lake near Boise.

While deployed, volunteers are serving in such roles as contract specialist, area officer and mission liaison, and safety and quality assurance specialists, mission managers, electrical engineers and electricians.

In addition to having the technical knowledge and skills needed for a specific deployment position, employee-volunteers must have their supervisor’s permission to deploy, meet FEMA and Corps training requirements and complete a medical screening to be approved to go.

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or afternoons at 526-8313.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Waterways Council, Inc.