MOBILE, Ala. – In response to Hurricane Ida relief, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Readiness Support Center (RSC) located in Mobile, Ala. Has begun to conduct Reception, Staging, Onward Movement and Integration (RSOI) and Roofing Quality Assurance (QA) training of the personnel deploying to support the region.
The RSC has been receiving and training responders since early last week and expects to train many more in the coming months to help the victims of Hurricane Ida in Louisiana.
“The Readiness Support Center was selected for a number of reasons,” Steven Diaz, Deputy Director of the RSC. “First our location is ideal for this specific event. Training in and around the impacted areas is not feasible due to lack of hotel accommodations, power, and several other hurricane related issues. Plus, our equipment and facilities to facilitate the training is state of the art. And we have the training support technicians on hand to assist.”
So far training is going well, said Diaz. They are training about 20-30 QA technicians per day and as of Friday a total of 140 QAs have been trained with an initial goal to train 240 QAs.
Mike Welch, a Power Plant Superintendent with the Omaha District who is helping to conduct the QA roofing training, says the training covers more than just how to fill out paperwork and put in requests.
“We not only train them on how does the Blue Roof program work and how to do roofing assessments, but we also touch on the psychological aspect,” Welch said. “A lot have never deployed before and it could affect them. A lot of them will be coming into contact with actual survivors. They will be the face of the Corps meeting those people and they need to be prepared for that.”
One of the trainees, 1stLt. Phillip Powelson, a project manager with the St. Louis District, said he volunteered to help with Hurricane Ida after he witnessed what USACE did to help Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria hit the country in 2017.
“I’ve always wanted to be a part of the Blue Roof mission,” Powelson said. “So, when the opportunity came up that there could be a Blue Roof mission in response to Hurricane Ida, I was jumping at the opportunity to volunteer. I wanted to be a part of something like this and to help out people that have been so devastated.”
Another trainee Megan Hartnett, who is a cartographer in the Galveston District, said she volunteered because she has always wanted to help after a Hurricane, after witnessing the damage Hurricane Ike did to her hometown of Galveston, Tex. in 2008.
The trainees when they arrive in Mobile go through RSOI and then receive roofing QA training which lasts a day. Then the trainees will either deploy to the field or perform their QAs remotely from the RSC.
Welch said that his main goal is to see the trainees be successful.
“I got here before the storm hit and I will be here for 30-60 days,” Welch said. “I wanted to come in early so I could get the program off the ground. We have a lot of new players and a lot of people that have never deployed before. I want them to be able to successfully execute the mission.”
Diaz said that through it all the RSC will be there to support anything the QA trainers or trainees need.
“The RSC is deeply invested in the training of all contingency response teams, this makes our support seamless,” Diaz said. “Our role is to support the mission anyway we can and to provide upward reporting of all activity and to mitigate any issues regarding space, equipment, coordination, reception of incoming workers and to provide administrative oversight.”