USACE Temporary Housing Team Lays Groundwork for Those Displaced by Maui Wildfires

Shelter is a basic human need that is crucial for survival. Providing shelter for victims after disasters helps to establish a sense of normalcy for the individuals and communities who have been affected.

Providing temporary housing involves a coordinated effort by various organizations to provide safe and secure accommodations for people who have been displaced.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers received a $1.9 million Federal Emergency Management Agency mission assignment Oct. 28 to provide conceptual design for temporary housing sites.

man with survey equipment
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, temporary housing, mission specialist, Anne Wurtenberger and mission manager Jeffery Mucclick visit with surveyor Stephen Caldwell (pictured here) at a proposed temporary housing site map. (U.S. Army photo by Brigida I. Sanchez)

Once a design is approved, USACE will prepare the sites for FEMA to install the units. The units will house those displaced by the Aug. 8 wildfires that destroyed more than 2,000 properties on Maui.

Working alongside FEMA, USACE will prepare pads, provide plans, specifications, and construction management activities associated with the emergency temporary housing mission.

There are currently six temporary housing planning response teams throughout USACE district offices in Huntington, West Virginia; Los Angeles, California; New York, New York; Jacksonville, Florida; St. Paul, Minnesota; and Huntsville, Alabama.

Each team is comprised of a management and support element with the management element deploying in advance, and the support element following as the mission develops.

viewing survey map on device
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, temporary housing mission specialist Anne Wurtenberger, looks at a proposed site map. (U.S. Army photo by Brigida I. Sanchez)

The 10-person team managing the mission on Maui is made up of USACE employees from both the St. Paul and Huntington districts. The team consists of engineers, surveyors and mission specialists.

USACE Temporary Housing Mission Manager, Jeff McCullick said, “Housing missions involve a myriad of moving pieces. Site assessments need to be done, then there’s zoning and utility needs.”

Temporary housing is a normal mission assignment for USACE. However, no two disasters are ever the same.

“The mission on Maui is unique in that USACE is not doing the installation of the units,” said McCullick. “We are preparing the pads with utilities so FEMA can procure and install the units.”

McCullick said the group is one week into the process but gaining momentum. “Although we are still in the initial stages, the team has hit the ground running and are working with FEMA to get people into homes as soon as possible,” he said.

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