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NEWS | April 7, 2021

My Hurricane Laura Deployment Experience

By Christina Eddleman U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Chicago District

Working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has given me a lot of opportunities to learn, grow, and challenge myself. Most recently, I was deployed down to Lafayette, Louisiana, along with several other USACE teammates, and we were assigned to support the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s temporary housing mission.

After Hurricane Laura hit southwest Louisiana (mainly Lake Charles) in August 2020, and then hit by Hurricane Delta in October 2020, FEMA set out to install temporary mobile home units for those who lost their homes or suffered major damage.

Our job was to inspect these units and make sure they were “Ready for Occupancy”. We worked 12 hours, seven days a week trying to get as many homes ready so families could move in.

Some days were slower than others, but we were always ready “on-call” in case other teams needed help with their inspections. There were several challenges along the way, but like everyone says, communication is key and being able to work with your team, the contractors, and FEMA is very important.

Louisiana is a beautiful state, just watch out for the hurricanes, flooding, tornadoes, alligators, and poisonous snakes. The food was phenomenal, and the southern hospitality was great – everyone was very friendly! Even with COVID, we were able to do our job and stay safe (we also had weekly COVID tests).

I deployed for 30 days, but some teammates had been down in Louisiana for 60-90 days! I highly encourage anyone that is interested in an emergency deployment to sign up on ENGlink (https://englink2.usace.army.mil/) or reach out to the Emergency Management Office.

I wish we didn’t have as many natural disasters (it seems like they’re more and more frequent these days), but I am glad to work in an organization that supports relief aid and also works proactively, designing and constructing robust structures that can mitigate some of the damages from any natural disaster.

I loved working with different districts and learning more about the USACE enterprise – we have a lot of cool projects nationwide! I look forward to deploying again in the future, but hopefully not too soon, calm down mother nature!