Vicksburg U.S. Army Corps members at work in Texas, Puerto Rico after hurricanes

Published 6:50 pm Saturday, September 16, 2017

A total of 15 employees with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District are working in areas of Texas and Puerto Rico to assist in the recovery from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

The team is composed of engineers and contract specialists, lock and dam operators, park rangers and environmental experts. Fourteen are in Texas assisting with recovery from Harvey, while another is in Puerto Rico.

The Vicksburg District supports all Corps’ Mississippi Valley Division debris related missions, according to a press release from the district.

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A team is composed of trained experts in debris removal and can be ready to deploy within six hours.

District public information officer Bucky Wall said team members began heading for the storm-ravaged areas two weeks ago.

He said the lock and dam operators are inspecting the dams at the Addicks and Barker reservoirs in Houston. Park rangers are working in Galveston.

“We work through FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency),” he said. “They make the request; they’re in charge of recovery efforts.”

When disaster hits, FEMA gives a mission to the Corps and the subject matter experts involved in the recovery request more personnel to assist in cleanup efforts.

These teams are expected to work on a 30-day cycle rotation, with the possibility of more team members deploying in the near future.

“Our district does debris management for FEMA, so there’s subject matter experts that are going to each area to evaluate the extent of the damage,” said Catherine Jennison, a public information officer with the district.

Wall said the engineers assigned to the area evaluate the extent of damage and organize the debris cleanup.

“Private contractors are hired to do the debris removal and we manage their contracts,” he said.

He said the district’s contract specialists also assist with purchased of materials and equipment for the recovery.

Presently, it’s not known if more members will be deployed for the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

“We have not gotten the official word, but they’re getting ready in case,” Jennison said.

“We’re sitting on go,” Wall said. “We’re waiting for everything to get organized.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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