LOS ANGELES – The Port of Los Angeles is one of 14 harbors maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Los Angeles District. Together with its sister port, the Port of Long Beach, it accounts for 31 percent of U.S. trade. Maintaining safe navigation in its federal channels and preparing to respond to disasters, whether natural or man-made, are issues of critical importance to the Corps and to the nation.
On August 30, the Defense Support of Civil Authorities senior leaders held a seminar for representatives of military branches to present their roles in a catastrophic incident that would draw upon the Authorities’ resources.
Col. Kirk Gibbs, commander of the LA District, provided information about the Corps’ emergency management Planning and Operational Authorities.
“The seminar was an excellent opportunity for us to emphasize the important and solid partnerships that we have with LA City Emergency Management, LA County DPW, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the U.S. Navy,” Gibbs said. “We trust each other, and we continue to work together as a team to establish trust with the public that we will work together before, during and after a disaster to ensure their safety.”
Gibbs discussed the Corps’ many responsibilities, in response to both declared and undeclared incidents. He talked about the missions FEMA assigns to the Corps, including providing and installing temporary power and temporary roofing, managing the removal of debris following a disaster, coordinating and providing temporary housing, conducting urban search and rescue and conducting infrastructure assessment of private property and critical public facilities.
An infrequent FEMA mission with the possibility to significantly impact the Port of Los Angeles is the responsibility to remove obstructions to navigation by clearing federal channels.
“Clearing channels in and leading to the harbor would be essential to making the Port of Los Angeles a working port again in the event of a disaster,” Gibbs said. “The importance of doing that job quickly and effectively cannot be overemphasized.”
The seminar was a kickoff event for the inaugural end-of-summer LA Fleet Week event on the LA Waterfront. Held over Labor Day weekend, LA Fleet Week is a free event that features public ship tours, aerial demonstrations, live music and entertainment, food trucks and exhibits, along with a STEM Expo and Veterans Village.
Military vessels will include the Coast Guard cutter USS Active, and the Navy’s amphibious assault ship USS America, the Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship USS Champion and the guided missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer.
Following the senior leaders gathering, port stakeholders conducted a table top emergency management exercise. Deputy District Commander Maj. Scott Autin led the district’s participation.
“The exercise provided us and the other participants with an excellent opportunity to consider how we would respond to an emergency situation at the Port of LA,” Autin said. “The best part of the event was the networking with key local, state, and federal agencies. Having a clearer understanding of what each of us brings to the table and how we can best employ those assets is of tremendous value for our planning.”