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With hurricane season ending on Nov. 30, thoughts of violent tropical storms have been replaced by holiday season plans for most Cape Fear residents.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
Webilm julieformal kellystarbuckcom mg 5471

The Benefits of Enrolling in the TSA Precheck Program

Julie Wilsey - Wilmington International Airport
Yasminheadshotwithlogo

How Reading Works

Yasmin Tomkinson - Cape Fear Literacy Council
Chadwoutersheadshot

Disaster Relief: Employers Helping Employees

Chad Wouters - Earney & Company, LLP

Trending News

A First Look At Wilmington Brewing Co.'s Event Venue

Cece Nunn - Nov 15, 2018

Wilmington Marine Center Adds Boat Slips, Plans More Expansion

Johanna Cano - Nov 14, 2018

Bill’s Brewing Company Set To Expand

Jessica Maurer - Nov 14, 2018

Rosalie’s Trattoria Offers Traditional Italian Cuisine, Pizza And Subs

Jessica Maurer - Nov 14, 2018

Two Wilmington Businesses Win NC TECH Awards

Johanna Cano - Nov 16, 2018

In The Current Issue

Salt Fish Brings New Flavors To The Island

Kirsten Mitchell took her childhood experiences growing up in the Bahamas and South Florida and her exposure to the restaurant world to open...


A Rising Interest In Rising Rates

Local and national real estate observers weigh in on what interest rate hikes might do on home buying activity....


Info Junkie: A. Kevin Lackey

Info Junkie Kevin Lackey, business development manager for Brunswick Business & Industry Development, on his tech and app recommendations....

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