The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers provides engineering services and capabilities in support of National interests at home and abroad. The Northwestern Division Readiness Contingency Office's mission is to integrate Prevention, Protection, Mitigation, Disaster Planning / Preparation, Response and Recovery into the Northwestern Division’s All Hazards Program through regional coordination of multiple offices/agencies, functions, programs, laws, and authorities.
The office consists of civil emergency management, military contingency support, and security. It provides regional guidance, orchestrates support for district response/recovery activities, and oversees preparedness through regional training, exercise, and planning documentation that spans 3 time zones, 11 states (directly assigned by HQ-USACE), 3 FEMA Regions, and 2 major river basins (Columbia and Missouri Rivers). Under an All Hazards response, USACE responds under its own authorities and provides trained and ready teams and personnel to support the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Combatant Commands, Department of Defense, the United States Agency for International Development, and other Government agencies engaged in domestic and international disaster responses and contingency operations.
Although these responsibilities lay primarily with state and local offices, in special circumstances, the USACE may supplement those efforts to save human life, prevent immediate human suffering or mitigate property damage. The Northwestern Division provides regional guidance, orchestrates support for district response/recovery, and oversees preparedness through regional training, exercise, and planning documentation.
Under Public Law 84-99, Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies, USACE and the Division’s Readiness organizations execute USACE’s civil emergency authorities to prepare and respond to flood emergencies, recover from damage to select flood control structures, provide limited water assistance and manage flood hazard risk. The program establishes the readiness/emergency management organization, mandates plans and enables training and exercises associated with flood fighting and related Emergency Operations Center operations.
The USACE offers flood-fighting measures for any flood control structures or other areas that provide public service, regardless of whether it is federal, tribal, public or private. Types of assistance include:
- Technical advice and assistance
- Emergency repairs to levees and other flood control projects
- Materials such as sandbags, polyethylene sheeting, lumber, pumps, or rock for stabilization when the Corps is actively participating in a flood fight
Since 2018, the Northwestern Division and its Districts executed more than $79 million (FCCE) and $35 million (FEMA Mission Assignments) on response and recovery activities for 22 major events, including flooding, wildfires, and ice jams.
More than 1,500 division and district personnel have deployed to regional and national level events to include support to other Major Subordinate Commands.
Under the Division's Security and Law Enforcement Program, the Readiness Contingency Office focuses on plans, management, and execution of the Division commander’s protection and security programs. The office assists the commander in directing, supervising, and managing Major Subordinate Command/Region security programs, and provides oversight and leadership to district related activities. The Security and Law Enforcement office ensures division commands provide protection for the NWD personnel, equipment, and missions from human- caused incidents. Protection programs support both emergency management mission assurance and force protection for NWD emergency management team members.
Under the National Emergency Planning and Preparedness Program (NEPP), USACE develops plans for continuity of operations (COOP) and catastrophic disaster responses. In addition, this program allows USACE to conduct training and exercises associated with COOP and catastrophic disaster response plans. NWD develops regional plans as well as plans for the MSC-HQ. As needed, NWD coordinates and synchronizes District plans and exercises.
Under the Field Force Engineering (FFE) Program, NWD manages the training requirements and support of the assigned FFE teams/members and supports the NWD districts who manage the training for the assigned FFE teams. Both teams, 34th EN DET and the Base Development Team, consist primarily of Seattle District (NWS) personnel with augmentation from the other NWD districts. The NWD RCO staff serves as the USACE lead to coordinate with NORTHCOM for training, exercise, and contingency operations.
In addition to its own emergency authorities, the Corps also has a primary role in support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) under the National Response Plan (NRP) and the National Disaster Recovery Framework (NDRF). These plans describe the basic structures by which the federal government will mobilize resources and conduct activities to assist states in coping with the consequences of significant disasters. Within these plans, the Department of Defense has designated the Corps as the primary agency for planning, preparedness, and response under the Emergency Support Function #3 (ESF#3), Public Works, and Engineering and the Infrastructure System Recovery System Framework.
Each Corps district office develops plans based on hazards unique to an area. They coordinate with appropriate agencies, states, local, and tribal governments for support in accordance with USACE authorities. Each district has a distinct responsibility to provide specific planning and response teams to support assigned FEMA missions in the National Response Plan. Training and exercises are conducted frequently to ensure the readiness of emergency team members when a plan is activated. The Northwestern Division Readiness Contingency Office, located in Portland, Oregon, coordinates activities with the Readiness offices for its five districts, located in Kansas City, Omaha, Seattle, Walla Walla, and Portland.