A common mantra of the military is “be prepared” and the same applies to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) civilian personnel. To maintain an elevated level of preparedness, the Emergency Management Office of the Buffalo District provided a training class for the organization’s Flood Fight Team this month.
The purpose of the Flood Fight Team is to provide auxiliary flood and post-flood response assistance to state and local governments, established in accordance with Public Law 84-99. When disaster events occur, like the recent flooding in New Orleans, LA, disaster preparedness often comes to the forefront in communities across the United States.
“The key to providing a quick response is having an established plan prior to a flooding event,” said Christina Landis, Flood Fight Team member. “The Buffalo District provides response services to river basins which flow into Lake Erie and Lake Ontario from New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.”
The Flood Fight Team, led by Deborah Lewandowski, Emergency Management Specialist of the USACE Buffalo District, currently has approximately 30 individuals on call to provide assistance when needed. Flood Fight Team responders are all District personnel who accept temporary assignments away from their normal duties to assist in the emergency response process. Fortunately, the District has not had a major flooding event in a long time, though teams have been required during small flooding or ice jam events.
“Typically, local and state emergency personnel are the first responders on the scene”, said Lewandowski. “When needed, the Flood Fight Team provides technical assistance and can advise the locals regarding direct assistance.”
Examples of technical assistance include providing hydraulic and hydrologic expertise, performing topographical evaluations, as well as developing ice jam mitigation plans. Flood Fight Team members provide direct assistance through the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in the District office. The EOC advises on how to obtain supplies (i.e., sandbags, HESCO barriers, etc.) and instructs on the proper technique to fill and lay sandbags.
“The Buffalo District Flood Fight Team has always been well received by the community. Having assisted in dozens of operations of various scales over the years, Buffalo District takes disaster preparedness seriously,” said Lewandowski.
In the U.S. Army you are taught to “know your enemy”, and for the Corps of Engineers sometimes that enemy can be water. When called to action, the Buffalo District Flood Fight Team is ready to engage that enemy and assist the people of the Nation.