14-053 Corps deploys power experts to support Washington State wildfire response

Published July 24, 2014

WALLA WALLA, Wash. –  Two U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Walla Walla District, employees deployed yesterday in response to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region 10’s request for emergency power subject matter experts to support operational planning efforts to provide emergency power to wildfire-impacted areas throughout Washington State, according to Corps emergency management officials.

Rich Hilt, a supervisory electrical engineer at Lower Granite Lock and Dam near Pomeroy, Wash., will serve as an action officer to the Washington State Emergency Operations Center in Camp Murray. Hilt resides in Colfax, Wash.

T.J. Fichera, a project manager for Plans, Programs and Project Management Division at the district headquarters, will provide technical expertise to Okanogan County. Fichera resides in Walla Walla, Wash.

President Barack Obama signed an emergency declaration yesterday  that ordered federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts in areas affected by wildfires in the counties of Chelan and Okanogan, and the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation.

Updates about wildfires in Washington State, maps, and home-safety information are available on the state’s EOC website at http://www.emd.wa.gov/activations/documents/_Templates/Activation_Template_Wildfire_Home.shtml.

The Walla Walla District maintains one of the Corps’ eight power teams, ready to deploy as part of the Corps’ Emergency Support Function (ESF) #3, public works and engineering-related support. 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 emergency management staging areas and operations centers.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is prepared and ready to respond to natural and man-made disasters. When disasters occur, it is not just a local Corps district or office that responds. Personnel and other resources are mobilized across the country to carry out response missions. The command is part of the federal government’s unified national response to disasters and emergencies, and is the designated lead for ESF #3, public works and engineering-related support. The Corps conducts its emergency response activities under two basic authorities – the Flood Control and Coastal Emergency Act, and when missions are assigned by FEMA, under the Stafford Disaster and Emergency Assistance Act.

In any disaster, the Corps’ top priorities are 1) support immediate emergency 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. Check out http://www.usace.army.mil/Missions/EmergencyOperations.aspx for more information about the Corps of Engineers’ emergency management mission and roles in supporting national disasters.


Public Affairs Office

Release no. 14-053