The Corps of Engineers (COE) has a primary role in support of the National Response Framework (NRF). This framework describes the basic structures by which the federal government will mobilize resources and conduct activities to assist states in coping with the consequences of significant disasters.

Within this framework, the Department of Defense has designated the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) as the primary agency for planning, preparedness, and response under the Emergency Support Function #3 (ESF #3), Public Works and Engineering.

Emergency Support Function #3 (ESF #3) provides technical advice and evaluation, engineering management and inspection, contracting for the emergency repair of water and wastewater treatment facilities, potable services, contracting for construction water, emergency power and real estate. These services are provided to assist state governments and in meeting goals related to lifesaving and life-sustaining actions, damage mitigation, and recovery activities following a major disaster or emergency.
Activities within the capabilities of the ESF #3 include:

• Participation in pre-disaster activities, such as pre-positioning assessment teams and contractors, and the deployment of other advanced elements
• Participation in needs/ damage assessments immediately following a disaster
• Emergency clearance of debris to enable reconnaissance of the damaged areas and the passage of emergency personnel and equipment for lifesaving, health & safety, and property protection
• Removal and disposal management of debris from public property
• Provision of expedient emergency access routes, which include repairs to damaged streets, bridges, ports, waterways, airfields, and other facilities necessary for emergency access to disaster victims
• Emergency restoration of critical public facilities, including temporary restoration of water supplies and wastewater treatment systems
• Emergency demolition or stabilization of damaged structures and facilities designated by state or local governments as immediate hazards to public health and safety, or as necessary to facilitate lifesaving operations (temporary protective measures to abate immediate hazards to the public for health and safety reasons until demolition is accomplished)
• Emergency contracting to support public health and safety, such as providing for potable water, power, or temporary housing
• Technical assistance, including inspection of private residential structures and commercial structures
• Support to other Emergency Support Functions (ESFs) as outlined in the NRF
• Provision of emergency power to public facilities.