FEMA Is Out of Water Redux ~ Anybody Ask the Army Corps of Engineers for Help?

THS NOTE: The Army Corps of Engineers maintains a registry of pre-awarded contracts (as part of their Advanced Contracting Initiative) for resources that are ready to move in to a disaster in real time. Their Commodities Planning and Response Teams, staged all over the country, are the mechanism by which those resources ~ specifically FRESH WATER and ICE in the first stages of the disaster ~ are implemented and delivered to the disaster site. This is ALL, by mission statement, REQUESTED and CO-ORDINATED BY FEMA after a Presidential Disaster Declaration. In a miserable display of incompetency, FEMA and this administration have failed to activate those very lifesaving assets, while scrabbling for “contracts” the USACE ALREADY has in place, READY TO GO. They merely put have 2 of these teams “on alert”. The explanation and the facts are below.

If they had, they might very well have water right now in an uninterrupted flow, instead of an embarrassing lurch and search for a bottling contractor with citizens suffering.

Let’s all revisit my “They don’t even have a f**king contract?!” comment (in the post below) for a moment, shall we?

Here’s the pertinent paragraph from the Breitbart article:

FEMA Taps Private Vendors to Meet Sandy Victim’s Needs

…FEMA only began to solicit bids for vendors to provide bottled water for distribution to Hurricane Sandy victims on Friday, sending out a solicitation request for 2.3 million gallons of bottled water at the FedBizOpps.gov website. Bidding closed at 4:30 pm eastern.

…and I remember saying “HOW is this possible?” Not just OUT of water, but not have PRE-POSITIONED contractors lined up to deliver life sustaining goods within certain parameters in every corner of the country for any eventuality they are chartered for? Every military unit has this capability in some limited fashion, or, at the very least, a detailed PLAN of exactly where and how to access those very essentials to continue the basic neccessities of the mission until such time as the cavalry arrives. And then “the military” literally rang my bell with the answer.

The United States Army Corps of Engineers’ mission is not just in flood control or setting up generators. Their Emergency Response components have some very specific functions in regard to relief of the civilian population as a whole:

USACE Disaster Response
In the event of a natural or man-made disaster, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is prepared and ready to respond as part of the federal government’s unified national response to disasters and emergencies. In any disaster, USACE’s top priorities are:

•Support immediate emergency response priorities;
Sustain lives with critical commodities, temporary emergency power and other needs; and,
•Initiate recovery efforts by assessing and restoring critical infrastructure.

During natural disasters and other emergencies, USACE can respond in a number of ways to include providing engineering expertise to local and state governments in support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, providing drinking water and ice, cleaning up debris, providing auxiliary power to critical infrastructure and making repairs to and providing temporary housing or roofing.

…Emergency Support Function #3 – Engineering and Public Works
USACE assists the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA by coordinating and organizing public works and engineering-related support.

Typical ESF 3 assistance provided by the Corps of Engineers includes the following:
•Needs Assessments: Participation in damage/needs assessments.
•Temporary Power: Provision of emergency power to public facilities.
•Ice and Water: Management and emergency contracting to support public health and safety, such as providing potable water and ice.
•Debris Management: Emergency debris clearance and removal and disposal management of debris from public property.
•Emergency Infrastructure Assessments: Assessments of damaged streets, bridges, ports, waterways, airfields and other facilities necessary for emergency access to disaster victims.
•Critical Public Facility Restorations: Emergency restoration of critical public facilities (including temporary restoration of water supplies and wastewater treatment systems).
• Demolition / Structural Stabilization: Emergency demolition or stabilization of damaged structures and facilities.
•Technical Assistance: Technical assistance including inspection of private residential structures and commercial structures.

USACE uses pre-awarded contracts that can be quickly activated for missions such as water, ice, temporary roofing, generator installation and debris management.

Gracious goodness! I see something called “commodities” in that list, referring to ice and potable water! As well as something called a “PRE-AWARDED CONTRACT“.

What could that mean?

Engineers. They explain EVERYTHING:

Contracting in Disasters

Contractors are our force-multiplier during a disaster response. We count on them to help us meet our mission requirements quickly and completely. The Corps of Engineers has pre-awarded contracts for major emergency response missions, such as bottled water, packaged ice, debris, and temporary roofing. These contracts are part of the Advanced Contracting Initiative (ACI). ACI provides depth to the Corps’ ability to respond quickly and effectively.

The Corps of Engineers has developed a contractor registry to assist us with our disaster response mission. The Corps uses its engineering and contracting capabilities to support FEMA and other Federal, State and local government agencies in a wide variety of missions during natural and man-made disasters.

So the Corps of Engineers ALREADY has contingency contracts signed in an ACTIVE, NATIONWIDE registry to ~ what was that phrase again?


But schmaybe FEMA doesn’t know the USACE has all these mah-velous capabilities ready and waiting for the call to action?

Well, they SHOULD. Because the Corps ALSO has these things called “Commodities Teams” (commodities, like “ice”, “water”…). This is the Norfolk, VA Commodity Team’s Emergency Operations Mission Statement:

The Norfolk District’s Emergency Management Office’s primary missions are emergency preparedness and coordinating response for natural disasters and national emergencies. The Corps provides emergency engineering and public works assistance including emergency power, commodities distribution; temporary housing and roofing; debris management and removal; and various forms of technical assistance .

Before support can be provided, local resources must be fully utilized. In response to a Presidential Disaster Declaration, the Federal Emergency Management Agency may task the Corps to provide certain types of assistance. The National Response Framework enable a unified national response to disasters and emergencies, assigning specific duties to each agency. Under Emergency Support Function # 3 of the NRF, the Corps may be tasked by FEMA to provide services.

Norfolk District has a dedicated Commodities Planning and Response Team, or PRT, to provide commodities distribution and management on an emergency basis. The “Commodities PRT” may deploy anywhere in the U.S. and its possessions as needed in response to a disaster situation.

It should be remembered that the Corps’ ability to provide assistance during a disaster is limited. Emergency help is more readily available through local and state emergency management or civil defense agencies, or local police, fire and rescue.

They also have Corps liasons attached to FEMA as part of the staff to REMIND them of ALL the wonderful stuff the CORPS can and WILL do. Let’s repeat one particular line from the mission statement:

Under Emergency Support Function # 3 of the NRF, the Corps may be tasked by FEMA to provide services.

Sandy’s devastation has received a Presidential Disaster Declaration.

DID FEMA activate the Army Corps of Engineer Commodities Planning and Response Teams?

Did they?

They wouldn’t be going door to door praying for a water bottle contract by Monday if they had, I’m thinking. And they’re not on THIS list.

Defense Department Continues Supporting Storm Response

…The Army Corps of Engineers has received 25 mission assignments from FEMA, with more than 400 people engaged to support the response mission.

The Corps of Engineers’ priority is support to the New York City flood mitigation mission, deploying technical assistance and senior leadership oversight while working to identify and deploy 100 high-volume water pumps to FEMA mobilization centers. This is in addition to the 100 water pumps U.S. Northern Command is sourcing at FEMA’s request, officials said.

The Corps of Engineers also is supporting states’ and FEMA operations centers in three regions to organize response efforts. More than 20 team leaders or assistant team leaders have been alerted or deployed to provide public works and engineering expertise, such as damage modeling, storm surge modeling, and coastal preparations.

Other planning response teams remain on alert for debris management, commodities distribution, infrastructure assessment, temporary roofing, critical public facilities, water planning, and temporary housing. Additional temporary power teams have been placed on alert status.

“On alert” ain’t “Boots on the ground”, baby.

They NEVER activated them.

Amazing the questions you can answer on your own.

ths update: What FEMA HAS tasked them with can be found here:

Current Operations (as of 2 November)
•USACE has more than 500 people engaged to support the response mission, and has received a total of 35 FEMA Mission Assignments.
•USACE received a Mission Assignment from FEMA to provide 80 truckloads of water to West Virginia, 56 truckloads of water to New Jersey, and 40 truckloads of water to New Jersey. That mission is complete.
•USACE debris teams are in ports and the waterways in both NJ and NY clearing debris.
•Other Planning Response teams remain on alert for any additional debris management, commodities distribution, infrastructure assessment, temporary roofing, critical public facilities, water planning, and temporary housing. Additional temporary power teams have also been placed on alert status.
•USACE is supporting States’ and FEMA Regions I, II and III operations centers to organize response efforts. More than 25 Team Leaders or Assistant Team Leaders have been alerted and/or deployed to provide public works and engineering expertise to include damage modeling, storm surge modeling, and coastal preparations.
•USACE has assigned a liaison to the Department of Energy and to the National Guard Bureau to coordinate any combined response actions.

That’s it? 176 truckloads of water ~ NONE (as a friend points out) to New York City ~ and THAT’S IT for the water FEMA’s tasked them with procuring, yet FEMA’s OUT OF WATER?!?!?!

And the Corps remains “on alert”, BEGGING for something to do, because they have the resources, the knowledge and the ASSETS IN PLACE TO HELP PEOPLE NOW…

In any disaster, our top priorities are:
•Support immediate emergency response priorities;
•Sustain lives with critical commodities, temporary emergency power and other needs; and,
•Initiate recovery efforts by assessing and restoring critical infrastructure.

…but this smartest, most transparent, you’re doin’ a heckuva job administration doesn’t mind more people dead, as long as those campaign optics are all rosy halos.

ths update: The USACE Hurricane Sandy FEMA update as of November 4:

Current Operations (as of 4 November)
•USACE has more than 400 people engaged to support the response mission, and has more than 50 FEMA Mission Assignments exceeding a total of $134 million.
•USACE debris teams are in ports, waterways and coastal areas in NJ and NY clearing debris along the Atlantic seaboard.
Other Planning Response teams remain on alert for any additional debris management, commodities distribution, infrastructure assessment, temporary roofing, critical public facilities, water planning, and temporary housing[ths adds: !!!].

GUESS what HASN’T CHANGED? No water or temp housing teams YET.


Today, November 4th’s DOD Press release is all National Guard and Transcom, with a teeny Navy/MarineCorps note. (H/T Dave in Texas) NO Army Corps of Engineer ANYTHING.

28 Responses to “FEMA Is Out of Water Redux ~ Anybody Ask the Army Corps of Engineers for Help?”

  1. currently says:

    So, to put it in a nutshell – If you depend on the government to take care of you then you’re in for a rude awakening.

    Imagine that.

    3 more days!

  2. JeffS says:

    “We’re from the government, and we’re here to help.”

  3. Skyler says:

    I think you misunderstand. If the US can provide water and food and shelter in an emergency, then how will the UN ever get involved?

  4. Please – the Army isn’t unionized…..


  5. leelu says:

    THS: how is New Jersey doing? Mr. Bingley in particular?

    Lack of linking/reporting leaves me to infer that they are doing at least better than NYC??

  6. leelu says:


    If the UN did get involved, who would they call first? Us.

    Like when our support was outsourced – we were no longer allowed to manage our own servers. We had to call in a ticket, then wait a half hour or more to get a call from the call center asking us to fix the problem, since they couldn’t.

  7. tree hugging sister says:

    Power as of yesterday, but no innerwebs for Bingley, thanks for asking leelu! Kcruella and DonnaD have checked in just getting theirs back, too.

  8. tree hugging sister says:

    That was a Skyler joke, leelu. {8^P

  9. Barky says:

    Hey can’t a guy just eat his waffle…run his campaign?

  10. leelu says:


    I keep forgetting to use the tag.


  11. leelu says:

    …that’s “irony” tag…

  12. leelu says:

    THS: There’s a smart phone app called “easy tether” It’s what I use for interwebs right now.

    But,I suppose he can’t download it, can he?

    Phone e-mail??


    Add it to the disaster prep list for next time. If you have phone/3G connectivity, you have the web.

  13. tree hugging sister says:

    IF you have a smart phone. I have a circa 2002 RAZR. How’s THAT?

  14. […] the New York Times might want to note that Obama’s FEMA appears to be a big fan of outsourcing FEMA’s disaster relief to the privat…… a week too late. FEMA only began to solicit bids for vendors to provide bottled water for […]

  15. Kathy Kinsley says:

    I’ve said it before – and I’ll say it again. Put Jeb Bush in charge of FEMA *if he doesn’t run for the hills at the mere thought*. Sigh.

    FEMA were around a little after Charlie, mainly handing out checks. Which didn’t help much when NONE OF THE BANKS WERE OPEN.

  16. Max Entropy says:

    Is the same Army that Obama is hacking the shit out of?

  17. Kathy Kinsley says:

    Oh… and, see Insty for why Bloomie Won’t let the National Guard in.

  18. leelu says:


    Is that the right link??

  19. mna says:

    All those know-it-alls who are so quick to diss government responses should first ask themselves about the effectiveness of the private sector’s response to the hurricane.

  20. Michael Lonie says:

    Private citizens are collecting clothing and other goods, and collecting money to buy more, and driving them up to NYC and elsewhere. Go to http://yourish.com for one person’s account of what she is doing.

    One of the legit functions of government is meeting disasters, just as it is dealing with foreign countries. The Fed gummint is now spending one trillion dollars per year on means-tested welfare payments, something that ought to be a state or local function, not a federal one. That figure does no include Social Security or Medicare, which are not means-tested. A government that spreads its attention so widely cannot do its proper function well, sometimes not at all. Furthermore, we have spent the money that might have been available for this emergency on years of welfare and “Green Energy” handouts to politically connected cronies of powerful Democrats. The waste of stimulus funds in 2009, just to take one example, was almost a trillion dollars of deficit financed money that accomplished nothing; no stimulus of the economy, no building of infrastructure, no manufacture of anything. The US spent almost a trillion dollars and has nothing, nothing at all, to show for it.

    THS, I’ll bet that the real problem with those Corps of Engineers contracts is that the contractors aren’t Obama/Dem contributors.

  21. JeffS says:

    mna, if you search through this blog, you will find that the Tree Hugging Sister and her hubby are the survivors of the majority hurricanes that hit the Gulf Coast in the past decade. It’s a safe bet that she understands disaster recovery at the local level, and is a good judge of what does and doesn’t work in these conditions. In fact, I expect that she knows more than you.

    You might also note that she’s pointing out the failings of FEMA, a federal agency, for not using the Army Corps of Engineers, another federal agency, to provide drinking water in a timely manner to people that need it. Because water is life. No water, no life. A basic fact. Which is why her ire is focused at FEMA, an agency which can do great things …… at times. This does not appear to be one of those times.

  22. leelu says:

    mna, what Jeff said. Find a CERT team, take the classes, and then come back and talk with us. I was a Certified Disaster Services worker, and I know that what THS says is spot on. This blog is an excellent source of information about disaster prep and survival when storms like Sandy are approaching.

    Rule #1 – you HAVE to be ready to survive on your own for AT LEAST a week. In the case of NYC, longer, because the mayor and governor apparently have no clue. (“Hey, let’s run a marathon!!”)

  23. leelu says:


    This article speaks well of the private sector’s abilities. You really ought to do some homework before you spew…


  24. Kathy Kinsley says:

    ROFL – ok, you found my secret vice….

    Here’s the National Guard link

    Bloomie doesn’t want them in NYC because they carry guns.

  25. Kathy Kinsley says:

    Which you had already – sorry, didn’t scroll down after I saw your response.

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