When the sun sets below the Pacific Ocean, the workday is less than halfway complete for Jon Runnels and Kenny Kwan. The pair are quality assurance representatives deployed with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Temporary Emergency Power Team on Maui.
“We’re providing quality assurance; we're also providing government presence on site, and we’ll go around while contractors are working, which is one of our requirements,” said Runnels, who was born and raised in Mississippi. “So, we also do spot checks, which is what the quality assurance part is. We're just making sure that everything is going fine, and that we don't have any generators that go down. So that's the main point of Temporary Power - keep the power going.”
Kwan, is a project manager and Runnels is a civil engineer. Both are assigned to the Honolulu District. Both live on O‘ahu, and both are engineers but they never met until Aug. 16 when they arrived in Maui as part of the federal emergency response to the Hawaii Wildfires.
“We work in the same district, but I've never met him,” said Kwan, who grew up in Honolulu. “But it's good. It brings people with common cause together, right. We're here volunteering for the same reason: we want to help people, and that’s one of the joys of the Power Team.”
In response to the Hawai‘i Wildfires, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers deployed the Power Team under a Federal Emergency Management Agency Mission Assignment.
The team consists of USACE personnel trained to oversee operations of FEMA generators that provide power to critical facilities like municipal buildings, critical care facilities and water pump stations.
The Power Team installed the first generator Aug. 14, and it was at a water pump station.
“At this time of need we’re supplying generators at you know important places such as water wells and municipal buildings that need power to run. People need water everywhere, right so their access to water can continue.”
Working late into the night, the pair travel to generator sites, the day shift can’t get to before their shift is complete. These locations are often far from any town.
Some sites are so remote and devoid of light that Runnels and Kwan use the headlights of their vehicle and flashlights on their phones to complete the QA process but by working in the dark, the pair help keep the lights on and water flowing for first responders and those in need.
The FEMA-assigned Typhoon Mawar debris removal mission on the island of Guam managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers advanced into a new phase today with the beginning of debris hauling operations.
USACE awarded contracts earlier this month to disaster recovery contractors ECC and PFM for debris removal and they’ve used the ensuing days to solidify cleanup crews and move equipment into place.
“Today we are at site 11, the Tiyan debris site, and are starting to receive the first truckloads of vegetation coming from the village of Hagat,” said USACE Debris Mission Manager Todd Turner from the Sacramento District. “We have a tower set up where they are determining the cubic yardage within the trucks that are coming in and then we have the laydown for the trucks after the cubic yardage has been determined.”
There is also separation of white goods going on and then eventually the removal of the construction and demolition material from the site.
Michael Curtis with the Los Angeles District is a Quality Assurance Specialist on-site at Tiyan monitoring the operations for the typhoon debris recovery mission.
“The trucks are placing the vegetation on site to be processed on site through the woodchipper and the contractor is separating out the white goods and will be draining the freon from those white goods and then processing them,” said Curtis. “White goods are refrigerators, large appliances, anything that has insulation and freon in it. The white goods will later be smashed with the bucket of a front loader, driven over, and then packaged for recycling.”
Soon, debris separation and removal will begin at public schools ahead of the new school year. Schools, with the help of the Guam National Guard, sorted their eligible Mawar-related debris and set it in the right-of-way (ROW) within 10-feet of the curbside. The USACE contractor teams will make one pass per debris stream (vegetation, construction and demolition material, and white goods) per school ROW. After the school ROWs are complete, residential debris removal will begin.
This program is a part of the combined Federal, state, and local Typhoon Mawar recovery response.