Emergency Management

Emergency Management Office


During natural disasters, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Buffalo District Emergency Management Office conducts emergency operations to protect lives, alleviate suffering and remediate damage in accordance with Public Law (PL) 84-99 and PL 93-288.

PL 84-99 assistance includes flood response, post flood response, rehabilitation, advance measures and hazard mitigation.

PL 93-288 and the National Response Framework (NRF) provide authority for FEMA to task USACE with technical support and direct assistance during response and recovery missions. This is accomplished through the Emergency Support Functions of the NRF. Typical missions/support include: potable water, ice, debris clearance and removal, temporary housing, infrastructure assessment, temporary power and temporary roofing.

Assistance under these two authorities is supplemental to local and State efforts and normally at the request of the State's governor.

Buffalo District Emergency Management Office - Phone (716) 863-3747  Email:

Emergency Management Info

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Flood Fight Fact Sheet

What is the Corps of Engineers' authority for conducting emergency operations?

The Army Corps of Engineers Emergency Activities, including flood fighting, are authorized under the provisions of Public Law 84-99, Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies (33 U.S.C. 701n)(69 Stat. 186). This law was subsequently amended by the Water Resources Development Act of 1986, Public Law 99-662, to provide additional authority for the Corps to accomplish post flood response activities.

How can the Corps of Engineers help during an emergency?

The Corps of Engineers will give technical advice and assistance on fighting floods when requested by State or local authorities. Other types of supplemental assistance are available under special circumstances. These are discussed below.

What responsibilities do State and local interests have?

State and local authorities should initiate a program of Disaster Preparedness, if they do not already have one. Such a program should include the maintenance of any existing flood control projects, as well as, the periodic assessment of the local flood potential and identification of new projects or methods to mitigate flood damages. It should include stockpiling or otherwise providing for sandbags and other flood fighting material and equipment, and training personnel to handle emergency situations.

What can the Corps of Engineers do to help in a flood fight?

When a flood occurs, emergency operations can be undertaken by a Corps District to supplement local and State efforts to protect life and property. Generally a local declaration of a State of Emergency or a written request from the appropriate local or State official is required before the Corps can provide support. Also required are local assurances of cooperation and indemnification of the United States from damages. Corps assistance may include furnishing flood fighting materials and equipment and hiring equipment and operators for flood fighting operations. Local officials normally have the primary responsibility to direct and control any flood fight activities. The Corps however, can assume a leadership role in the fight if formally requested by local authorities. Corps efforts will normally cease when the flood waters have receded, unless the Governor of the affected State provides the Corps with a written request for additional post-flood assistance (up to 10 days) under the provisions of Section 917 of PL 99-662. Protective or preventive measures taken during the flood fight will usually be of a temporary nature. Local interests are responsible for removing any temporary structures that were installed by the Corps during flood fighting operations.

Does the Corps have sandbags and plastic sheeting available for distribution to State and local governments?

Yes, we do. However, local interests including State governments, should first make full use of their own resources. This includes stockpiling sandbags and other materials needed for immediate emergency response. Sandbags provided by the Corps of Engineers are not intended for stockpiling by local entities, and may only be provided in actual emergency situations; when local supplies have been or will soon be exhausted. Unused sandbags should be returned to the Corps, and the local interests may be requested by the Corps to reimburse the costs of any Corps sandbags used during the flood fight.



Sandbag "How To" Information

Sandbag "How To" & Information Document: The use of sandbags is a simple, but effective, way to prevent or reduce flood water damage. Properly filled and placed, sandbags can act as a barrier to divert moving water around instead of through buildings. Sandbag construction does not guarantee a water-tight seal, but is satisfactory for use in most situations. Sandbags are also used successfully to prevent overtopping of leveed streams and for directing current flow to specific areas.

How to Fill a Sandbag & Construct a Sandbag Emergency Levee: This PDF shows diagrams and provides numbers to help you properly fill sandbags and construct a sandbag emergency levee.