Category Archives: Emergency Operations

Rough Start to the School Year is Made Easier with Help of Federal Partnership

Students of Mauriceville Elementary School and Mauriceville Middle School in Orange, Texas, once again have a classroom to call their own. After a topsy-turvy start to the 2017-2018 school year, the students moved into their new building on Feb. 20, thanks to a partnership among the State and local governments, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and FEMA.

Classes were set to begin Monday, Aug. 28, 2017, but Hurricane Harvey swept through town before school could begin. No one in the school district could have imagined the destruction the storm would leave behind.

The elementary and middle schools in Mauriceville were two of the four schools in the Little Cypress-Mauriceville Consolidated Independent School District (LC-M CISD) that flooded. The heavy damage to the school buildings left more than 850 students without a place to learn.

On Sept. 20, 2017, students throughout the district returned to class part-time, with Mauriceville Middle School students splitting the school day with upperclassmen at the local high school, and Mauriceville Elementary school students traveling ten miles to North Orange Baptist Church, where the district rented space for makeshift classrooms to be shared with Little Cypress Elementary School. It wasn’t ideal, but it worked.

“The whole experience was probably as smooth as it could be for us,” said LC-M CISD Assistant Superintendent Greg Perry, “The Army Corps of Engineers did a great job; everyone is excited to have clean classrooms.”

USACE located modular buildings, constructed foundations, installed classrooms, connected utilities and built canopies and walkways. Even with delays caused by wet winter weather, the project was completed in three months.

“We recognize that getting schools back to some normalcy after a disaster is a big step, so it was our privilege to assist with the Hurricane Harvey recovery,” said Steve T. Sherrill, a Port Arthur, Texas, USACE Resident Engineer.

The cost to prepare and install the buildings is estimated to be nearly $1.75 million. Portable classrooms are leased at a monthly cost of approximately $57,000.

“The Corps of Engineers is an invaluable resource for making a project like this happen,” said FEMA’s Kevin Hannes, federal coordinating officer for Hurricane Harvey. “It’s nice to have a partner like that, who can come in and build a safe, functional schoolhouse in such a short amount of time. This is an important milestone for this community and I’m happy we could be a part of it.”

Happy Birthday Galveston District!

Happy 137th Birthday to our “Custodians of the Coast,” the Galveston District!   Wow – 137 years; one of the oldest Districts in the Corps.

Your remarkable history of withstanding disasters to provide dedicated support to local communities and the nation served you well this past year, as you took on Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath. With an impact on so many of your mission areas—emergency management, flood risk management, navigation, regulatory, and others– Harvey challenged each member of the District to accomplish even more.  And accomplish you did.  We all applaud your efforts and actions.

Galveston District has had a strong record as Pacesetters since the arrival of the Galveston engineer to oversee river and harbor improvements on Feb. 25, 1880.  The District built the world’s longest jetties in 1897, helped Galveston recover from the devastation of the Great Storm in 1900 and build the iconic Galveston Seawall, served though two World Wars and other conflicts.  And of course, and more recently, the District withstood and handled Hurricanes Ike and Harvey, two of the costliest hurricanes in our history.  All the while, you have continued your strong tradition of maintaining and protecting the Texas Coast, with its fragile ecosystem and economic powerhouse,   and the people who live there.

The Galveston District has earned quite a birthday celebration this year!  Celebrate your iconic past and all your accomplishments, and continue to look forward to exciting and challenging times to come.

Happy Birthday to each of you!


Paul E. Owen, P.E.
Brigadier General, US Army Corps of Engineers
Commander, Southwestern Division