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Posted 8/18/2014

Release no. 14-038

Joseph Bonfiglio

By Joseph Bonfiglio, Honolulu District Public Affairs

In response to Hurricane Iselle, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Honolulu District fielded multiple assets to assist the U.S. Coast Guard, Hawaii State Civil Defense, FEMA, and other federal, state, and local agencies. 

The Honolulu District, working with our local and federal partners, jointly conducted an underwater survey in Hilo Harbor on Aug. 8, and ensured there were no channel obstructions.

Based on the successful results of this survey, the Coast Guard reopened Hilo Harbor the same day allowing vessel traffic to safely resume.

In addition, the District, teaming with the 249th Engineer Battalion - Prime Power, also worked with state and federal officials to assist their efforts in restoring power in affected areas.

These actions were taken in response to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region 9’s request for emergency power subject matter experts to support operational planning efforts to provide emergency power.

A few days before Hurricane Iselle hit, the Honolulu District activated its Emergency Management Teams, including the Emergency Operations Center, the Power Planning and Response Team, the Channel and Harbor Response Team, the Crisis Action Team, the Crisis Management Team, its Liaison Officers, and its Subject Matter Expert for Emergency Power.

The Honolulu 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 Honolulu District 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 in the Pacific Ocean area of responsibility.

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.