Have you ever watched a news segment showing devastation following a major flood, earthquake, hurricane or other natural disaster? As the camera pans the scene, there are almost always people in the shot who are helping guide victims toward the help they need, making home inspections, analyzing structural safety, answering questions and more. Often, many of those emergency responders in bright yellow vests and hard hats are U.S. Army Corps of Engineers employees.
What you will most likely never see on TV is the hive of activity taking place either here at Sacrament District, or in a mobile unit, or in some cases, right there near the scene of the natural disaster. It takes many more Corps of Engineers employees working behind the scenes to help with an emergency response. It takes project managers, mapping specialists, people staffing phone lines, logistics teams, public affairs specialists, and more.
To successfully respond during a crisis, Sacramento District’s Emergency Operations Center relies on volunteers like you to support and fulfill its missions. From assignments in Afghanistan to the wildfires of California, volunteers are always needed.
Not only are there opportunities to serve here in the U.S., there are also opportunities to serve abroad, or OCONUS – Outside Continental United States.
Are you getting interested? Starting to think this may be for you?
The first thing you should do (after reading this article) is check out the EOC website and familiarize yourself with the requirements to participate. There is a bit of mandatory training and a handful of other requirements you will need to have up to date in order to deploy.
“Our office website has volunteer information and training links, and is helpful in walking people through the process at their own pace. If someone is interested in updating their volunteer status, this would be a good place to start,” said Emergency Operations Specialist Annie Flores.
The second thing you should do is join Flores as she presents a virtual Lunch and Learn on overseas contingency deployment opportunities this Wednesday, May 12, from 11:30 – 12:30.
Flores also holds an annual Lunch and Learn to help get the word out about the district Planning Response Teams and volunteer opportunities. Keep you eyes open for that this coming fall.
“This is our biggest source of recruitment. It is low pressure for people who just aren’t sure if volunteering is right for them, and it gives me a chance to address concerns about workload, type of work, financial incentives and more,” said Flores. “Supervisor and team leaders are also invited as they understandably may have questions about a member of their office volunteering and potentially being away from the office.”
Of course, not everyone is in a position to volunteer or deploy across the state, nation and world. But if you are someone who can, and you are wondering if it is worth it, check out these testimonials from just a few of our District employees who have been there, done that, and are grateful for the experience.
During an emergency deployment, you have this wonderful opportunity to see first-hand the incredible work we do. You join a team and become a part of something bigger than you; building back people's lives.”
Stacy Pereyda-Hill, Project Manager
“The destruction caused by some of these disasters is not something that any of us can ever really prepare for. When a wildfire wipes out an entire neighborhood or town, people lose everything. Every. Thing. As a public affairs officer, the most rewarding part of emergency response work is providing that crucial information to those affected by these disasters and helping them better understand “what happens next.” We explain the process, answer questions, and help them see the light at the end of a very dark tunnel. And when I see that look of hope return to their eyes…there’s no better feeling.”
Rick Brown, Senior Public Affairs Specialist
"I’ve served on a special team for long-term recovery for six months following the 2018 Camp fire, and volunteered for other short-term deployments for COVID and fire response. I highly recommend EOC deployments because it is an opportunity to make immediate, positive contributions to communities. Most of the work I do is planning for future mitigation efforts that could be implemented years down the road. Through a deployment, I can see a more immediate impact to communities recovering from disasters. It is rewarding to be part of an interagency team working together on response and recovery efforts integral to communities.”
Melissa Weymiller, Project Manager
“EOC deployment support not only provides critical support to the USACE Mission, it provides you the opportunity to be part of a broader federal and state team working together to bring order out of chaos for survivors of natural disasters and other similar events and situations where people’s lives are disrupted or impacted. It’s an opportunity to use unique professional skill sets, build interagency camaraderie and make a positive impact in people’s lives.”
Bryon L. Lake, Senior Project Manager