The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is a major Army command with a broad set of missions and capabilities. One of its missions is to provide assistance, within its authorities, when natural disasters or other emergencies occur.
Emergency preparedness and response is primarily a state and local responsibility. However, in instances when the nature of the disaster exceeds the capabilities of state and local interests, the Corps of Engineers may provide help to save human life, prevent immediate human suffering or mitigate property damage.
The Corps gives emergency assistance top priority and provides immediate response using every resource and expedited procedure available. Assistance is limited to the preservation of life and the protection of residential and commercial developments, to include public and private facilities that provide public services. Exclusive assistance to individual homeowners and businesses, including agricultural businesses, is not authorized, However, during periods of extreme drought, such assistance may be provided to farmers and ranchers under certain circumstances. Rehabilitation assistance may also be available for eligible flood control structures with public sponsors.
The geographically diverse location of Corps of Engineers offices nationwide assures and immediate response to disasters in any area. The Corps is divided by drainage basins into regional divisions. The divisions are subdivided by smaller drainage basins into districts. Personnel are also assigned to various field offices scattered throughout each district. During disasters, personnel in any locale may be quickly mobilized to assist in response and recovery work.
Emergency Operations Managers have been appointed at each division and district to carry out all emergency actions. Each is responsible for maintaining an emergency organization of trained specialists. Most important, however, each district has a single point of contact for all emergency activities.