Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief
“In the U.S., the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) may respond to disaster situations under its own authorities, provide support to civil authorities under the National Response Framework (NRF) as administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), support contingency requirements of other federal civil agencies, and/or support military commands conducting operations also in support of civil authorities. Response and recovery activities are supplemental to State and local efforts.
USACE has authority under PL 84-99, Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies (FCCE) (33 U.S.C. 701n) (69 Stat. 186) for emergency management activities to protect human life and improved property, reduce human suffering, help communities recover from the effects of disasters, and mitigate damage and future threats. Under PL 84-99, the Chief of Engineers, acting for the Secretary of the Army, is authorized to undertake activities including disaster preparedness, Advance Measures, emergency operations (Flood Response and Post Flood Response), rehabilitation of flood control works threatened or destroyed by flood, protection or repair of federally authorized shore protective works threatened or damaged by coastal storm, and provisions of emergency water due to drought or contaminated source.
- Preparedness: PL 84-99 establishes an emergency fund for preparedness for emergency response to natural disasters; for flood fighting and rescue operations; for rehabilitation of flood control and hurricane protection structures. Disaster preparedness activities include coordination, planning, training and conduct of response exercises with local, state and federal agencies.
- Response Activities: PL 84-99 allows the Corps of Engineers to supplement State and local entities in flood fighting urban and other non-agricultural areas under certain conditions (Engineering Regulation 500-1-1 provides specific details). All flood fight efforts require a Project Cooperation Agreement (PCA) signed by the Public Sponsor and a requirement for the Sponsor to remove all flood fight material after the flood has receded. PL 84-99 also authorizes emergency water support and drought assistance in certain situations and allows for “advance measures” assistance to prevent or reduce flood damage conditions of imminent threat of unusual flooding.
- Rehabilitation: Under the authority of PL 84-99, an eligible flood protection system can be rehabilitated if damaged by a flood event. The flood system would be restored to its pre-disaster status at no cost to the Federal system owner, and at 20% cost to the eligible non-Federal system owner. All systems considered eligible for PL 84-99 rehabilitation assistance have to be in the Rehabilitation and Inspection Program (RIP) prior to the flood event. Acceptable operation and maintenance by the public levee sponsor are verified by levee inspections conducted by the Corps on a regular basis. The Corps has the responsibility to coordinate levee repair issues with interested Federal, State, and local agencies following natural disaster where flood control works are damaged.
Under Public Law 93-288 (the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act), USACE uses its engineering expertise and its response and recovery capabilities to support the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in responding to disasters and emergencies as the lead Federal agency for Emergency Support Function (ESF) #3, Public Works and Engineering under the provisions of the National Response Framework (NRF). FEMA issues USACE ESF #3 response and recovery missions under the NRF for Civil Emergency/Response (any response to the urgent needs of civilians and/or state/local governments) and Civil Disaster (any formally declared emergency involving civilians and/or civil governments) (to include technological, Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), biological and chemical). These mission assignments are designated as either response (National Ice, National Water, Commodities, Power, or Structural Specialists to Urban Search and Rescue) or recovery (Debris, Temporary Roofing, Temporary Housing, Critical Infrastructure, or Infrastructure Assessment). As such, FEMA funds these activities through the Stafford Act as a result of a Presidential declaration.