The New England District's Emergency Management Office coordinates with federal, state and local organizations to provide disaster and emergency assistance throughout the region.
Throughout the nation’s history, citizens have relied on the Army to respond to their needs in disasters. In a typical year, the Corps of Engineers responds to more than 30 Presidential disaster declarations, plus numerous state and local emergencies.
Emergency responses usually involve cooperation with other military elements and federal agencies in support of state and local efforts. The Corps conducts its emergency response activities under two basic authorities: Flood Control and Coastal Emergency Act (P.L. 84-99, as amended) and the Stafford Disaster and Emergency Assistance Act (P.L. 93-288, as amended). Under the Stafford Act, the Corps supports the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in carrying out the National Response Framework, which calls on 26 federal departments and agencies to provide coordinated disaster relief and recovery operations. Under this plan, the Army has the lead responsibility for public works and engineering missions.
The frequency and severity of damages created by natural and other disasters require an ever-ready rapid and effective emergency management response. This challenge will always remain an area of national need. Disaster damages more typically run in the billions of dollars. In addition, population shifts to at-risk areas and climatic changes are increasing the risk to people and property. Although it is the responsibility of state and local governments to plan for natural emergencies, such as storms, fires, or earthquakes, the Corps participates in the planning process through seminars and exercises. It can also take extraordinary measures, such as strengthening nonfederal flood control or shore protection works in the face of a potentially damaging flood.
One of the most hazardous outcomes of a flood can be contamination of the water supply. The Corps may provide emergency clean water supplies to stricken communities by trucking in potable water to central distribution points or providing temporary water service from safe sources. Similar services can be provided to people and livestock in drought areas.
Whatever the disaster, the Corps is a source of help for stricken communities. The skills developed by Corps professionals while working on civil and military projects are invaluable in emergency situations and would be equally useful to the nation if mobilization were required.