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    St. Louis District team wraps their hands around Operation Blue Roof mission

    St. Louis District team wraps their hands around Operation Blue Roof mission

    Photo By Patrick Moes | Tony Jones, left, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Louis District construction chief...... read more read more



    Story by Patrick Moes 

    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District

    When it comes to disaster response, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is one of several federal agencies tasked with helping survivors recover. Often serving under the Federal Emergency Management Agency as the lead agency for engineering, or emergency support function #3, USACE teams from across the nation train in a variety of skills to provide the resources a community needs to begin recovery after an event such as flooding or a hurricane.

    The skills required under the ESF#3 mission includes teams dedicated to debris removal, temporary housing, critical infrastructure assessments, temporary power, and temporary roofing, also known Operation Blue Roof. For the latter mission, the St. Louis District is one of four districts who have primary roofing teams tasked with providing the free, critical short-term fix needed by survivors to bridge the gap between a storm and permanent roof repairs.

    “The Corps of Engineers’ temporary roofing mission allows survivors impacted by the devastating affects of hurricanes to have a place to shelter safely, out of additional harms way, and begin to piece their lives back together again,” said Keith McMullen, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Louis District regulatory supervisor and Hurricane Ida Operation Blue Roof action officer.

    To that end, the St. Louis District has been on the ground for nearly 50 days following Hurricane Ida’s landfall Aug. 29. The Category 4 storm packed sustained winds around 150 miles per hour. The path of destruction left a trail of storm damage across Louisiana with 25 parishes eligible for the blue roof service.

    From the bayou to Bourbon Street, temporary blue roofs now dot the landscape. USACE has completed nearly 33,000 temporary roof installations or 97 percent of the valid requests since the first installation in Orleans Parish Sept. 8. There are 25 parishes that were impacted by Hurricane Ida’s Category 4 winds that made landfall Aug. 29.

    “Employees from the St. Louis District willingly volunteered to participate in the Hurricane Ida emergency response,” said McMullen. “Whether physically deployed to Louisiana or working remotely from the St. Louis District office, our employees stepped up as part of an important mission to assist the survivors impacted by the devastating storm. There is nothing better than the gratifying feeling one receives when we’re able to provide relief and personal comfort, in the form of a temporary roof, that allows these people the chance to get their lives back in order.”

    For members of the St. Louis District’s temporary roofing team, the workload has been significant during the past few years. The team deployed in support of hurricanes Katrina, Maria, and Ida. All these events required a significant number of district employees to support the mission. On average, when asked to support a mission, McMullen said approximately 24 employees are initially deployed to determine the scale and response effort required to make the necessary repairs as fast as safely possible. He added that once the team establishes a recovery field office near the disaster area, additional team members from the home district as well as hundreds of Corps employees from districts across the country, deploy to assist in carrying out the mission. The staff support a variety of mission assignments to include quality assurance specialists, mission leadership and safety specialists.

    While the need to support USACE disaster response missions is critical, it can often put stress on the district championing the help. The deployed personnel leave their day-to-day jobs when supporting temporary roofing missions, and this can provide challenges to the district supporting the mission. McMullen said when an employee deploys, teammates at their home district step up and perform additional duties in support of their deployed teammates. He added that this is one of the advantages of our organization. “We have people across the nation that can, and do, roll up their sleeves and do the hard work when asked,” said McMullen.

    He added that the St. Louis District is proud to serve as one of the primary roofing teams across the country. Our district leadership prides itself on mission execution and when disasters strike, they are quick to support our employees who willingly volunteer to step up and deploy. The need to backfill our deployed employees allows district employees opportunities to perform new tasks, gain new experiences and enhance their careers. “These opportunities are a win-win situation for the employee doing a backfill of their deployed teammate, as well as the district,” said McMullen. “The district team becomes more experienced, diversified and stronger as a result of these deployments.”




    Date Taken: 10.25.2021
    Date Posted: 10.25.2021 13:20
    Story ID: 407939
    Location: NEW ORLEANS, LA, US 

    Web Views: 108
    Downloads: 0