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Readiness and Contingency Operations

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers provides immediate and effective response and assistance during National Emergencies and Major Presidentially Declared Disasters. Although these responsibilities lay primarily with state and local offices, in special circumstances, the Corps may supplement those efforts to save human life, prevent immediate human suffering or mitigate property damage. USACE’s top three priorities are:

  • Support immediate emergency response priorities;
  • Sustain lives with critical commodities, temporary emergency power and other needs; and
  • Initiate recovery efforts by assessing and restoring critical infrastructure.

The Readiness and Contingency Organization for the North Atlantic Division is engaged in planning, training, exercising and response activities for natural disasters, national emergencies, support to the military and civil support occurring not only within their own geographic boundaries, but nationwide and around the world.

Specifically, the Division’s Readiness and Contingency Organization and District’s Emergency Management Offices execute USACE authorities for the following:

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To the support the Nation’s warfighters, the North Atlantic Division maintains several teams to support Field Force Engineering. Field Force Engineering provides engineering services to the military, Department of Defense and federal agencies in support of military contingencies and catastrophic disaster relief operations relevant to national security. History shows that engineering requirements in these missions are often overwhelming in the early stages of operations and again during the post-hostility/post-declaration phase. As a result, USACE specialists are called upon to fill the capability gaps. The FFE program uses small, expeditious teams of military and USACE civilian specialists to bring the Corps technical engineering capabilities and expertise to the front with minimal footprint.

Through "reachback" these highly trained teams, with the war fighter, bring the full capabilities of USACE to bear.  This is accomplished through the use of cutting-edge, off-the-shelf communications equipment, enabling deployed personnel worldwide to communicate directly with experts in USACE Labs and Centers of Expertise in the United States when a problem in the field exceeds technical capabilities and needs quick resolution. Reachback allows direct access to vast resources to support theater engagement strategies, contingency planning, and wartime operations.

NAD and the District offices develop plans based on hazards unique to an area, coordinate with appropriate agencies, and identifies response teams to support assigned missions. Training and exercises are conducted frequently to ensure the readiness of team members. The North Atlantic Division Readiness and Contingency Organization, located in Brooklyn, New York, coordinates the activities of the District Emergency Management offices, located in Wiesbaden, Germany; Concord, Massachusetts; New York City; Philadelphia; Baltimore; and Norfolk, Virginia.

This program encompasses the full cycle of contingency operations to include preparedness, response, mitigation, and recovery. The program includes rehabilitation and inspection of a substantial flood risk management portfolio. NAD is currently completing numerous levee and coastal flood damage reduction rehabilitation projects.

The Corps offers flood-fighting measures for flood damage reduction projects or other areas that provide public service. Types of assistance include:

  • Assistance in search and rescue operations
  • Technical advice and assistance
  • Temporary repairs to levees and other flood control projects
  • Materials such as sandbags, polyethylene sheeting, lumber, pumps, or rock for stabilization when the Corps is actively participating in a flood fight
  • Generally, Corps assistance ends when the event is over (i.e., flood waters have receded or some other predetermined stage.

The Corps’ authority to perform post-flood activities immediately after a flood or coastal storm is provided by Public Law 84-99 (as amended). Corps assistance is limited to major flood or coastal storm disasters that result in life-threatening or serious property-damage situations. This type of assistance includes the following:

  • Technical advice and assistance
  • Provide engineering technical assistance in the clearance of drainage channels, bridge openings, or structures blocked by debris deposited during the event
  • Remove debris to reopen vital commercial transportation routes
  • Provide engineering technical assistance in the  temporary restoration of critical public services or facilities
  • Identify hazard mitigation opportunities

When there is a substantial threat to the public health and welfare of the inhabitants in the area, the Corps, within specific guidelines, is authorized to provide emergency water assistance to any community confronted with water supply problems associated with drought conditions or a contaminated source. Contamination may have resulted from deliberate, accidental or natural events, including flooding. This type of assistance includes the following:

  • Transportation of water by vehicles, small diameter pipelines, or other means for human and livestock consumption
  • Well construction
The National Disaster Recovery Framework defines how Federal agencies will organize and function to promote effective recovery in support of States, Tribes and other jurisdictions affected by a disaster. The NDRF seeks to fully leverage already existing Federal resources and authorities in conjunction with the full capabilities of the public and private sectors to support long-term community recovery. Upon activation by FEMA, USACE, in coordination with its partners, accomplish post-disaster recovery planning and execution of the Infrastructure Systems – Recovery Support Function in order to efficiently restore infrastructure systems and services while concurrently increasing the community’s resilience to and protection from future hazards.
To support Continuity of Operations, Continuity of Government, and Catastrophic Disaster planning, the Corps utilizes the National Emergency Preparedness Program throughout the North Atlantic Division area of responsibility. NAD provides civil disaster planning assistance, regarding USACE authorities, to FEMA Regions 1, 2, and 3, other federal agencies, and state response partners.
In addition to its own authorities, USACE also has a primary role in support of the National Response Framework. Under the National Response Framework, USACE is assigned as the primary agency for Emergency Support Function #3 – Public Works and Engineering. The Corps assists the Department of Homeland Security/FEMA by coordinating federal public works and engineering-related support, as well as providing technical assistance, engineering expertise, and construction management to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and/or recover from domestic incidents.