Hurricane Florence displaced thousands of people from their homes throughout North Carolina. Victims needed immediate housing assistance, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) responded with its Sheltering and Housing Solutions for North Carolina survivors of Hurricane Florence. The program was designed for rental assistance, transitional sheltering assistance, home repairs, and direct temporary housing. In the latter, travel trailers were provided for a timely, effective interim solution for most households with assurance that repairs to their home could be completed in less than a year. Manufactured Housing Units or MHUs provided longer-term solutions for survivors whose repairs would take longer to complete due to greater damage.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) supported FEMA’s direct temporary housing with technical and project management expertise. In addition, USACE also supplied mission specialists who worked various tasks such as technical monitoring of installed units and units at the staging yard, Quality Assurance (QA) inspections of units in progress, and electrical QA inspections on units in progress. Additionally, USACE staff members assisted in project management and technical oversight as requested by FEMA.
Civil engineer Tara Linville deployed from the Huntington (WV) District to work for FEMA as a Project Manager/Project Engineer. She said that by mid-Nov., the agency conducted 3,294 pre-placement interviews for direct temporary housing. Of those, 930 households were eligible for inspection, and 694 site inspections had been issued to date.
Linville is no stranger to deployments. Her first was in 2016 to Baton Rouge in response to severe storms and flooding, followed by a 2017 deployment to Texas in response to Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts, and to the Florida Keys after Hurricane Irma.
“The resiliency of survivors throughout the missions I've been part of is always astounding,” she said. “The survivors I've met have been thankful and optimistic despite their loss.”
Linville said that she has never personally been affected by a natural disaster. When she went to college, she didn’t know exactly what career path she wanted to take, but she knew that whatever she did, she wanted to help other people.
“I decided to major in engineering, but I wasn't sure how I was going to use my degree to help others,” Linville said. “After a year of working for USACE, I heard about the opportunity to join the housing team and respond to disasters, and I knew my path had led me where I needed to be. Being in a position to help others during a very vulnerable time in their lives is an opportunity and a privilege. It's humbling to meet survivors who have lost everything they own, but they still smile and thank you for being there. And when our job is done and a survivor gets the keys to their unit, that smile is priceless.”