Institute for Water Resources

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Value to the Nation


Earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and other disasters are an unfortunate part of life. It is impossible to completely prevent them. A tornado, hurricane, flood, earthquake or other disaster can tear through our communities in moments destroying homes and businesses, uprooting families and leaving behind a path of destruction and broken dreams.

Disasters can strike anywhere and anytime. No matter where or when they strike, though, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stands ready to respond. Through its disaster preparedness efforts and its quick response to disasters, the Corps is able to help save hundreds of lives and millions of dollars in property damage every year from natural and manmade disasters.

The Corps is committed to lessening the impact of these disasters on people, communities, the economy and the environment. The Corps emergency management efforts are built on the three R’s: Readiness, Response and Recovery. Learn more about recent Corps emergency response efforts below.

For more information read our Emergency Management Brochure (pdf, 2.11 MB).

More Information

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Careful preparation and planning allows the Corps to respond almost immediately anywhere in the nation, even in the case of multiple disasters. When disaster strikes our response teams can be onsite within hours providing immediate relief and support. Read more…
In 2010, the Corps responded to 20 major disasters, including the Haitian earthquake, Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Hurricane Earl, and numerous flooding events around the country. The Corps manages a Deployable Tactical Operations System that features rapid response vehicles designed to deploy within 18 hours as mobile field offices. Read more…
The Corps emergency management efforts also have become inextricably linked with the nation's homeland security. In 2002 the Corps created an Office of Homeland Security, incorporating the emergency management program and other programs designed to ensure the security of the nation's infrastructure. Read more…
The economic impact of a disaster can be tremendous, destroying or disabling businesses, crippling critical infrastructure, and causing untold property damage. Floods alone are estimated to cause up to $6 billion in damage a year in the United States. The Corps disaster preparedness and emergency response efforts help to reduce the effects of disasters on businesses and communities. Read more…

When responding to an emergency situation the Corps first priority is saving lives and property. However, our response teams are also sensitive to the tremendous impact disasters can have on the environment. Many of the steps our teams take during an emergency are designed to lessen this environmental impact including:

  • Preventing contamination of rivers, streams, lakes and other waterways;
  • Protecting against erosion; and
  • Clearing hazardous debris.

Each year the Corps emergency response teams help communities deal with and recover from many different types of natural and manmade disasters. Recent examples are:

Midwest Floods of 2008

In June 2008, record-breaking storms resulted in flooding in a six-state region within the Midwest. High-water records were set at 47 gage stations along tributaries in the Upper and Middle Mississippi River Basin. Although some overtopped, the levees worked as intended, allowing local emergency management officials to safely evacuate residents and providing much needed time to reinforce and improve levees to protect lives and property.

After the floods, the Corps worked closely with state and local emergency managers to inspect, advise and assist communities, including:

  • deploying experts to monitor and assess Mississippi River levees
  • supplying more than 100 pumps, 3,000 rolls of plastic sheeting and 13 million sandbags for flood fighting
  • carrying out FEMA-mandated missions for debris removal and commodity distribution
  • establishing temporary housing and emergency power

Hurricanes Gustav and Ike

Hurricane Gustav threatened portions of the Gulf Coast in August 2008, nearly three years to the day after Hurricane Katrina. The work the Corps has done to repair, restore and ensure a resilient Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System in the greater New Orleans area was put to the test. The system performed as designed.

Then in September 2008, Hurricane Ike followed close on the heels of Gustav, primarily impacting the Texas Gulf Coast communities of Galveston, Houston and surrounding counties. Nearly 900 Corps employees were engaged in hurricane emergency support missions that included:

  • supplying temporary power for critical public facilities
  • performing debris management and infrastructure assessments
  • providing temporary roofing and temporary housing technical assistance
  • procuring drinking water and ice
  • providing technical assistance to establish commodity distribution points