18-44 District employees deploy to support FEMA missions in Puerto Rico, California

Published May 9, 2018
WALLA WALLA, Wash. – Three U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Walla Walla District employees deployed during the past week to support ongoing Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster-response missions in Puerto Rico and California, according to District emergency management officials.

Deployees volunteered from duty locations throughout the District:

Army Capt. Brent Vance, a Walla Walla, Washington, resident, who serves as a contracting specialist at the District headquarters in Walla Walla, deployed to Puerto Rico to support FEMA’s Power Grid Repair mission as a planner and operations officer for micro-grid projects, primarily in remote-access areas.

Tyler Hutton, a Walla Walla, Washington, resident, who serves as a mechanical crew foreman at Lower Monumental Lock and Dam, near Kahlotus, Washington, deployed to Puerto Rico to support FEMA’s Power Grid Repair mission as a quality assurance specialist for work performed under government contracts.

Peter Ober, a Burbank, Washington, resident, who serves as a natural resource specialist at Ice Harbor Lock and Dam, near Burbank, deployed to Rohnert Park, California, to support FEMA’s Wildfires Debris Removal mission as a contracting officer representative.

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 a variety of FEMA and Corps training requirements, and complete a medical screening to be approved to go.


Puerto Rico Power Grid Repair Mission -- As assigned by FEMA, the Corps leads the federal effort to repair the hurricane-damaged electrical power grid in support of the Government of Puerto Rico. Working in partnership with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, the Department of Energy and FEMA, the Corps’ priority is to safely restore reliable power to the people of Puerto Rico as quickly as possible.

Puerto Rico has about 2,400 miles of transmission lines across the island and 30,000 miles of distribution lines with 300 sub-stations. It is estimated that 80 percent of the grid was affected by two hurricanes which ravaged the island just two weeks apart -- Irma (Sept. 7, 2017 - category 5) and Maria (Sept. 20, 2017 - category 4). As of May 8, 2018, about 98.4 percent of the 1.47 million customers who are able to receive electric power have their service restored. For more information about the Corps’ ongoing hurricane-response missions in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, visit http://www.usace.army.mil/Hurricane-Irma/.

Northern California Wildfires Debris Removal Mission -- The Corps is working in partnership with the local, state, and federal response to the devastating California wildfires, which began in October 2017. Our number one priority continues to be the life, health and safety of all who are affected by the fires.

We have more than 100 personnel engaged and coordinating with local, state and FEMA partners. The Corps has received 11 FEMA mission assignments totaling approximately $1 billion for northern and southern California. As of May 6, 2.21-million tons of debris have been removed, 4,461 of 4,580 approved parcels have been cleared of debris (97.4 percent complete) and 4,184 parcels have been returned to the counties. Expected mission completion for debris removal activities is the end of May. For more information about the Corps’ ongoing California Wildfires missions, visit http://www.spk.usace.army.mil/CAwildfire/

Since late-August 2017, more than 100 hurricane-related deployment positions, nicknamed “taskers,” have been filled by Walla Walla District volunteers, supporting FEMA missions in various locations that provide emergency temporary power, manage storm debris disposal, assess damaged critical infrastructure, provide temporary housing and roofing, restore power grid capability and logistics-management services.


Public Affairs Office

Release no. 18-044