WALLA WALLA, Wash. – A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Temporary Emergency Power Planning and Response Team (PRT) expert from the Walla Walla District arrived in Puerto Rico late-Friday, Aug. 24, 2018, to support the Corps’ Task Force Temporary Emergency Power, according to District emergency management officials.
For Katie Goodwin, an administrative officer in Walla Walla District's Engineering and Construction Division, who resides in Walla Walla, Washington, this is her sixth hurricane-related deployment since Hurricane Harvey hit the Gulf Coast about a year ago, and her second deployment to Puerto Rico in the past five months.
During this 30-day volunteer tour of duty, Goodwin will serve as a subject matter expert for the Corps’ task force there, drawing from knowledge and experience gained from the past year’s hurricane-response missions to American Samoa, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Florida and Texas with the District’s Power PRT. Goodwin has served on the District’s Power PRT for almost 10 years.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assigned the Corps the Temporary Emergency Power mission in response to hurricanes Irma and Maria which struck Puerto Rico about two weeks apart during September 2017. Since then, Temporary Emergency Power PRTs have assisted with assessments, maintenance, and generator installations at critical facilities, including, but not limited to: hospitals, wastewater treatment plants, water purification facilities, fire and police stations. The Corps and its partners (federal, state and local agencies) are working as a unified effort to help the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico recover from the disaster caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria.
These teams installed generators at more than 1,300 critical facilities, in addition to the installation of nine small power plants, or micro grids, providing temporary power to communities while grid power is restored. Previously, the most generators installed occurred during Hurricane Katrina (approximately 310). Corps employees with Temporary Emergency Power PRTs from Pittsburgh, Tulsa, Memphis, Walla Walla, Honolulu, Albuquerque, and Savannah districts completed 30- to 45-day rotations during this monumental disaster-response effort.
Task Force Temporary Emergency Power is currently subsidizing grid power with 98 active generators installed producing 45.8 megawatts (as of Aug. 27). As the power returns to Puerto Rico, the number of active generators will go down, as of Aug. 27, there have been 1,190 generators de-installed and 1,536 generators released to FEMA. After the Corps completes its current temporary power mission, about 600 generators will be refurbished and remain on the island to support potential future emergency operations during the 2018 hurricane season.
The Corps remains committed to making maximum contributions towards final emergency restoration as assigned by FEMA for the people of Puerto Rico and to FINISH STRONG.
The Walla Walla District maintains one of the Corps’ seven Temporary Emergency Power PRTs, ready to deploy as part of the Corps’ Emergency Support Function (ESF) #3, public works and engineering-related support. The Corps’ power PRTs, along with soldiers from the 249th Engineer Battalion, conduct assessments and install generators to assist with getting critical public facilities operational in the wake of disaster.
The all-volunteer teams can provide backup electrical power generation anywhere an emergency makes the service needed. Team members agree to be in an on-call status, ready to deploy on short-notice when disaster strikes. Power team members directly support FEMA-led emergency management staging areas and operations centers.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is prepared and ready to respond to natural and human-made disasters. When disasters occur, Corps teams and other resources are mobilized from across the country to assist our local districts and offices to deliver our response missions. The Corps is part of the federal government’s unified national response to disasters and emergencies, and serves as the lead agency to respond with public works and engineering support, and to coordinate long-term infrastructure recovery. The Corps conducts its emergency response activities under two basic authorities – the Flood Control and Coastal Emergency Act, and mission-assigned by FEMA, under the Stafford Disaster and Emergency Assistance Act.
In any disaster, the Corps’ top priorities are 1) support immediate life-saving and life-safety response priorities; 2) sustain lives with critical commodities, temporary emergency power and other needs; and 3) initiate recovery efforts by assessing and restoring critical infrastructure.
FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror. For information about FEMA’s response to recent hurricane activity, visit their website www.fema.gov