In anticipation of Hurricane Isaac making landfall along the north-central Gulf Coast near New Orleans, the Mississippi Valley Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, has started preparations to support hurricane response operations.
"Right now, we are tracking the path of Isaac," said David Sills, Chief of the MVD Readiness and Contingency Operations. "MVD’s primary mission in response to hurricane threats is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) emergency operations for the states of Mississippi and Louisiana.”
And while still not knowing the exact path Isaac will settle on, MVD planners are not standing by and guessing what assets will be needed. The Corps has teams that are trained and ready to move into impacted areas with necessary support like ice, water, temporary power, housing and roofing, and debris removal. The division is positioning elements of the response plan from remote sites so that it can most quickly react either to a strike on New Orleans or other parts of the Gulf Coast.
"Teams from our six districts and other districts in the U.S. are trained, rehearsed and ready to move into the area with FEMA and state emergency management teams as soon as practical,” said Sills. “We also want to make sure our employees and their families are safe while providing continuity of operations.”
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conducts its emergency response activities under two basic authorities: the Flood Control and Coastal Emergency Act (P.L. 84- 99, as amended) and the Stafford Disaster and Emergency Assistance Act (P.L. 93-288, as amended). Under the Stafford Act, the Corps supports the Federal Emergency Management Agency in carrying out the National Response Plan, which calls on 26 Federal departments and agencies to provide coordinated disaster relief and recovery operations.
The Mississippi Valley Division has a primary role in support of the National Response Plan. The plan describes the basic structure by which the federal government will mobilize resources and conduct response and recovery activities to assist states and local governments in coping with the consequences of significant natural or man-made disasters, to include terrorist events.
Within this plan, the Department of Defense has designated the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as the primary agency for planning, preparedness and response under the Emergency Support Function #3, Public Works and Engineering. The type of assistance provided by the Corps includes restoration of critical public services and facilities, including supply of adequate amounts of potable water, temporary restoration of water supply systems, provision of temporary emergency electrical power, temporary emergency housing, structural evaluation of buildings and damage assessment, and clearance, removal, and disposal of debris.
The Mississippi Valley Division is responsible for emergency preparedness and developing plans for all hazards response. In addition, each of its six districts has a specific primary mission assignment for execution in support of FEMA under the National Response Plan. These missions are executed by a Planning and Response Team trained specifically for the assigned mission. These teams may respond within the Mississippi Valley area or may be deployed worldwide.
MVD includes portions of 12 states and encompasses 370,000 square miles.
The district offices that conduct the programs and activities overseen by the Mississippi Valley Division are located in St. Paul, Minn.; Rock Island, Ill.; St. Louis, Mo.; Memphis, Tenn.; Vicksburg, Miss.; and New Orleans, La.