Jacksonville District’s Emergency Management Branch has been working with nearly 50 district employees on deployment missions at home and abroad during 2012.
At the end of November, 32 district team members had deployed to Afghanistan, while 16 others had responded to three tropical systems that impacted Florida and the north Atlantic – 12 were sent to New Jersey and New York to assist with emergency response following Hurricane Sandy, while seven others had earlier assisted with damage assessment following Tropical Storms Debby and Isaac.
In Afghanistan, the Corps still operates two districts as part of its Transatlantic Division. The Afghanistan Engineer District North is headquartered in Kabul, and is currently under the leadership of former Jacksonville District Commander Col. Al Pantano. The Afghanistan Engineer District South is headquartered at Kandahar Airfield. Both districts are working on projects to support remaining American military forces in the country, and to support Afghan National Security Forces as they prepare to assume the lead in security operations in 2014.
However, hurricane season saw its share of deployment activity as well. Tropical Storm Debby dumped heavy rain on northern Florida in late June, causing flooding that closed I-10. In late August, Tropical Storm Isaac made its way through the Gulf of Mexico, also bringing heavy rain for most of south Florida. For each storm, the Corps dispatched teams to assist with assessment of damage along impacted beaches.
In October, Hurricane Sandy made its way north along the Atlantic Coast, finally reaching land in New Jersey. Sandy knocked power out for millions, and resulted in the activation of 12 Jacksonville District employees. The Jacksonville team assisted with the assessment of damaged critical infrastructure, such as fire stations, schools and other key facilities. They also assisted with the development of technical reports to help guide the recovery process. By early December, five team members were still deployed, although most were expected to be home in time for Christmas.
The Emergency Management Branch is always looking for volunteers to ensure its response rosters stay fully staffed and ready to respond. Jacksonville District fields response teams for roofing and for temporary housing. Additionally, opportunities for deployment to Afghanistan may be available as well. Emergency Management staff can assist those who want to be considered for an available overseas assignment (with supervisory approval). Additionally, available jobs are posted on the USAJobs website as well as the Department of Defense Civilian Expeditionary Workforce website.