When Hurricane Ian hit south Florida last fall, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers worked in partnership with local, state and federal agencies to respond to the natural disaster. Every year, USACE, as part of the federal government’s unified national response to disasters and emergencies, deploys hundreds of people to provide technical engineering expertise and to promote capacity development at home and abroad. However, even after the FEMA mission assignments were closed out after Hurricane Ian, USACE’s support did not stop there.
In January, members of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District and their Army Reserve partners conducted 20 site visits across 14 cities throughout central Florida to inspect facilities that were hit by Hurricane Ian in late-September.
The team, which included Louisville District National Roofing Program Manager Tim McClellan, Army Reserve contractors Justin Reeder, and Resource Efficiency Manager Bud Lewis visited St. Petersburgh, Pinellas Park, Cape Coral, Tampa, Clearwater, Lakeland, Orlando, West Palm Beach, Palatka, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Gainesville, Ocala and Sanford, to perform roof assessments of damages to all Army Reserve facilities that were impacted by hurricane or tropical storm force winds from Hurricane Ian.
The Louisville District manages the National Roofing Program as part of the district’s nation-wide Army Reserve mission. The NRP is a roof inspection and replacement program with the goal of minimizing cost through high quality design and construction. The program has installed more than 12 million square feet of roofs for Soldiers over the last two decades. These NRP roofs have never had a roof failure, even during previous hurricanes Katrina, Harvey, Sandy and Rita.
During the two weeks the NRP Team was in Florida, they inspected 13 facilities that have roofs that were replaced under the NRP and there were no failures on any of the NRP roofs, according to McClellan.
“We were also able to inspect 10 Army Reserve Facilities that had roofs that were not installed under the NRP,” McClellan said. “Three of those facilities had wind and water failures from the hurricanes that were not complete roof failures but that will need repairs.”
Although those roofs were not a part of the NRP, the team will be providing guidance to the Army Reserve on how to repair those facilities to restore watertight conditions. Additionally, two facilities had roofs that were in poor shape and will be added to the NRP list for future replacement as they have reached the end of the design service life, according to the team.
Although it’s not necessarily ‘common practice’ for the team to conduct site visits after a natural disaster, the Louisville District has been in the business of providing the long-term maintenance and repair of roofs for the Army Reserve for decades.
“We have conducted inspections in the past on leaking roofs, but this is the first time we have been requested to conduct a complete assessment of the inventory,” McClellan said.
The team starts the inspection process with a visual inspection of the interior of the building and interviewing the building occupants to have a better understanding of where and when leaks may occur.
“A visual inspection of the underside of the roof helps to pinpoint any potential locations for problems,” McClellan said. “Then is followed by a visual inspection of the building from the ground and then an inspection of the roof from the top.”
The rooftop inspection focuses on the locations identified during the interior walk and on areas of recuring problems.
“Often times we are able to locate potential issues when walking the roof through a change in the feel of the insulation,” McClellan added. “If there are questions, destructive testing may be conducted to explore the conditions below the surface.”
The Louisville District’s National Roofing Program has executed approximately $250 million in reroofing contracts for approximately 1,000 buildings at nearly 359 Army Reserve facilities across 46 states, American Samoa and Puerto Rico.
The NRP grew out of the National Roofing Initiative whose mission was to improve roofing facilities, minimize operational expenses and maximize the quality of work life for our warfighters. The initiative began in 1997 and was later recognized by the Army Reserve through the Louisville District’s Memorandum of Understanding in 2004 for nationwide execution. The NRI experienced early success and was subsequently rebranded as the NRP. The NRP reduces energy use, is ecofriendly, eliminates maintenance, and most importantly, provides Soldiers great facilities for battle-focused training.
McClellan has worked on the NRP since 2012.
“I take pride in the National Roofing Program and the effect we have on the training environment for our Army Reservists,” McClellan said. “The NPR has provided over 900 new roofs for our Soldiers that allows them to focus on their job and training for 20 years instead of water dripping on their desk.”