Flood Fighting Frequently Asked Questions

Emergency Management

Q:  What is the Corps of Engineers' authority for conducting emergency operations? 

A:  The Corps of Engineers emergency authorities, including those for flood fighting, are authorized under the provisions of Public Law 84-99, Flood and Coastal  Emergencies (33 U.S.C. 701n) (69 Stat. 186) as amended. 

More information on PL 84-99.

Q:  How can the Corps of Engineers help during an emergency?

A:  The Corps of Engineers will give technical advice and assistance on fighting floods when requested by State, Tribal, or local authorities. Other types of supplemental assistance are available under special circumstances. These are discussed below.

Q:  What responsibilities do State, Tribal, and local interests have?

A:  State, Tribal, and local authorities should initiate a program of Disaster Preparedness, if they do not already have one. Such a program should include maintaining existing flood control projects, stockpiling or otherwise providing for sandbags and other material and equipment, and training personnel to handle emergency situations.

Q:  What can the Corps of Engineers do to help in a flood fight? 

A:  When a flood occurs, emergency operations can be undertaken by the Corps to supplement local efforts to protect life and property. A declaration of a state of emergency or a written request from the Governor, Tribal Chairperson, or other local official is required before the Corps can provide support. Also required are local assurances of cooperation and indemnification of the United States from damages. Corps assistance may include furnishing flood fight materials and equipment and hiring equipment and operators for flood fight operations. The Corps can assume a leadership role in the fight if responsible local authorities are unable to cope with the situation. Corps efforts will cease when the floodwaters have receded. Protective or preventative measures taken during a flood fight will usually be of a temporary nature. After the fight is over, local interests are responsible for removing any temporary structures that were installed by the Corps. 

Q:  Does the Corps have sandbags available for distribution to State, Tribes, and local governments? 

A:  Yes, we do. However, local interests, including State governments and Tribes, should first make full use of their own resources. This includes stockpiling sandbags and other materials needed for immediate emergency response. Sandbags provided by the Corps of Engineers are not intended for stockpiling and may only be provided in actual emergency situations when local supplies have been or will soon be exhausted. All loaned supplies and material are to be replaced in kind or the Government reimbursed for the costs of the materials. Supplies of sandbags have been established at various District field offices. Local officials are to request Corps sandbags and other flood fight materials through the State Division of Emergency Management to the Albuquerque District , Readiness and Contingency Branch, 505.342.3686 (24-hr emergency number). All issued supplies will be hand receipted to a local responsible official.