Print
Maritime

Corps’ Hurricane Relief Work Continues

By Terry Reilly, posted Dec 12, 2017
Col. Robert Clark, commander of the Army Corps of Engineers' Wilmington District, talks about the office's recent hurricane relief work in the Virgin Islands. (Photo by Michael Cline Photography)
With hurricane season ending on Nov. 30, thoughts of violent tropical storms have been replaced by holiday season plans for most Cape Fear residents. But not everyone.
 
Lisa Parker recently spent weeks in the U.S. Virgin Islands helping with the islands recover from the double barrel blasts from Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria that devastated the three main islands of St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John.
 
Parker, chief of public affairs, joined about a dozen colleagues from the Army Corps of Engineers’ district office in Wilmington. Her new boss, Col. Robert Clark, took over command of the Wilmington district in July. Two months later his baptism of wind and water ensued.
 
Clark hunkered down with 79 Corps engineers as Hurricane Maria hit with Category 5 winds in late September.
 
“We only stayed when we thought we would be safe in a Cat 5. It was a wild ride – like being on a roller coaster. You could hear the roar, but I felt safe,” he said.
 
Before the storm hit, structural engineers from his team verified that their hotel could handle the 150 mph-plus winds.
 
Asking the Wilmington team to lead the Virgin Islands recovery was not the original plan. The Corps’ Jacksonville District is tasked with supporting Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and its home state of Florida. With all three hit by storms in late summer, the Mobile, Alabama District took over support for Puerto Rico. And the Wilmington District assumed support lead for the Virgin Islands.
 
Storm relief by the Corps focused on setting up emergency power, debris removal and operation “blue roof.” Over 3,700 reinforced plastic sheeting roofs were installed as a short-term fix.
 
“It was meant as a rapid repair to allow people to shelter in place, helping to keep people out of shelters. They’ll transition to a longer-term fix using various FEMA programs,” Clark said. 
 
The Corps has responded by installing 172 temporary generators or 98 percent of the amount requested. Many of those generators have been disconnected as the U.S. Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority has restored most of the grid. The goal is to be 90 percent completed by Christmas, Clark said.
 
For Clark, who spent 22 years on the military side of the Corps, his hurricane experience accelerated his learning curve regarding the Corps’ Civil Work.
 
“I learned from the Virgin Islands experience that the Corps is a vast, diverse enterprise, and there is very little that we can’t do,” he said. “I could get resources from anywhere. We had a core employee from every one of the Corps 43 U.S. districts involved in the Virgin Islands.”

Correction: This version has been updated to describe the material Corps workers used to install as temporary roofs.
 
For more about Col. Robert Clark’s experiences since taking command of the Army Corps of Engineers’ Wilmington District and his upcoming goals for the office, pick up an upcoming issue of the Business Journal.
Ico insights

INSIGHTS

SPONSORS' CONTENT
Lyleheadshot2017 1251720228

Community Service PTO Benefits Your Company, as Well as Your Community

JC Lyle - Wilmington Area Rebuilding Ministry
Volety 0020 1121724229

UNCW to offer N.C.’s first Actuarial Science Certificate Program

Aswani Volety - UNCW College of Arts and Sciences
Corey61

The World Needs Ditch Diggers

Corey Lewis - Cape Fear Jobs

Trending News

Gastroenterology Practice To Move To Physicians Drive Building

Vicky Janowski - Jun 22, 2018

Cape Fear Crossing Studies Moving Forward

Christina Haley O'Neal - Jun 22, 2018

Federal Report Gains Attention From CFPUA, Law Firm On Local GenX Issue

Christina Haley O'Neal - Jun 21, 2018

Phoenix Spirit Group Leases N. Kerr Industrial Building

Johanna Cano - Jun 22, 2018

In The Current Issue

Berry Farms Weather The Ups And Downs

The weather might have made the 2018 growing season challenging for local berry farmers thus far, but it has not slowed demand for straight-...


Mirimichi Looks To Changing Landscape

Russ Britton started his sustainable landscape products company with a star-studded partnership and plans to continue to grow Mirimichi Gree...


Construction Zone: Updates On 4 Commercial Projects

Current commercial building activity in Wilmington includes retail and office space, with more planned in the coming years throughout the ar...

Book On Business

The 2018 WilmingtonBiz: Book on Business is an annual publication showcasing the Wilmington region as a center of business.

Order Your Copy Today!


Galleries

Videos

2018 Power Breakfast - Dishing on the Restaurant Biz
2018 WilmingtonBiz Expo - Keynote Lunch with Eric Dinenberg, Rouse Properties
2017 Health Care Heroes