Flood Preparedness Responsibilities
Most flooding incidents begin and end locally, and are managed at the local level. “Local” means individual land and business owners, home owner associations, community governments, special interest districts (for example, school, utility, road or flood control districts) and other similar agencies. Often, a flood event requires a unified response from local agencies, the private sector and non-governmental organizations. Some events may require additional support from the county, neighboring jurisdictions or state governments. A smaller number of flood events require federal support.
Individual property and business owners are the first tier responsible for preparing for and responding to a flood event, working with local governments, agencies and special interest districts. These may share in this responsibility, and together form the community's first line of defense in preventing flood damages. When state and local resources are not adequate for a flood event, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) flood support program is authorized under Public Law 84-99 (PL84-99) to supplement the flood response operations of state and local governments. Walla Walla District implements this authority within the Snake River Basin, covering parts of Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Wyoming.
Our response protocols are structured to provide tiered levels of support when additional resources or capabilities are needed. However, PL84-99 does not authorize USACE to support individual property and business owners. All support must be coordinated through counties and states, typically initiated by the county Emergency Manager. No assistance can be provided directly to individuals. Tribes may apply directly to the District, but are encouraged to cooperate with county and state officials.
Private individuals and agencies at all levels are encouraged to develop response plans specific to the flood hazard in their areas. A publication by Walla Walla District, Flood-Fight Handbook: Preparing for a Flood, is available for all as a guide in getting ready for the next flood. This can be downloaded, free of charge, from this web page.
Counties may apply directly to Walla Walla District for flood support, but the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) must be involved to insure that maximum non-federal resources are applied to the situation before federal aid is provided. All other agencies and special districts must work through county and state governments. Walla Walla District coordinates with non-federal emergency management agencies outside of flood season to insure their plans include our capabilities and limitations.
Walla Walla District supports non-federal flood operations through:
- Technical Advice: Answer specific questions for officials by telephone.
- Technical Assistance: Deploy subject matter experts to study a situation and develop specific recommendations for the impacted jurisdiction.
- Material Assistance: Issue supplies (including sandbags and plastic rolls) for temporary flood protection structures. In the event we issue sandbags, unused stocks must be returned as soon as the emergency condition is over. Consumed supplies must be replaced in kind, or paid for by local interests. This may be waived by the District Commander for extreme circumstances.
- Direct Assistance: Build temporary flood protection structures and/or repair existing structures through contractors. This requires a Cooperative Agreement between the requesting government and the Walla Walla District, with all rights of entry and easements provided by the requestor before work begins.
Our assistance is intended to be supplemental, and not a replacement for community preparedness and local emergency response actions. An emergency declaration by the county is required. Further, USACE is not authorized to reimburse flood response and recovery costs incurred by non-federal governments.
For assistance, please call the Readiness Office at 509-527-7146 during business hours, or 1-509-380-4538 (dial all 11 digits, even within the 509 area code) after hours. Requests for assistance will be accepted only from county, state, or tribal elected officials or their designated representatives (preferably their emergency management agency). Private landowners and businesses will be referred to their County Emergency Manager.
For more information, please refer to the additional information resources in the right-side column of this webpage.