In a war zone, soldiers are trained to watch out for dangerous, life-threatening obstacles. Perhaps the enemy scattered landmines over the terrain. There may be a sniper 300 yards away waiting for your approach. Tied to rooftops in the hot Louisiana sun for most of their day, Corps of Engineers Blue Roof contractors assisting with Hurricane Ida disaster relief also know hidden dangers. Their marksman is a ruthless rusty spike that pierces the bottom of their boot; their landmine is a weak part of the roofing with hidden rot under the shingles. To be safe on the edge of a two-storey drop requires vigilance.
“Considering all the hazards associated with roof work – the most obvious being the risk of falling from the roof and sustaining injury, or worse – death, the record-breaking milestone of 20,000 roofs has been installed unbelievable in just a few weeks given the level of safety measures required to install even one roof,” said Sarah Futrell, Blue Roof Mission Safety Manager, deployed from USACE St. Louis District.
Colonel Zachary Miller, Commander, USACE Memphis District who leads the FEMA-assigned Hurricane Ida Disaster Response Mission for USACE, is pleased with the rapid blue roofs appearing on homes in the 25 affected parishes.
“We’ve installed more blue roofs than Hurricanes Laura and Delta combined, and in half the time – that’s because we carefully review and improve our processes every time; this year we have made some major efficiency improvements and we are seeing more homes get blue roofs in a shorter period of time.”
Miller’s mission team regularly reports numbers of blue roof installations in the chain of command and shares production data with FEMA and other federal, state and local agencies, but the raw numbers of blue roof installations do not fully reflect how many residents benefit from the program, says Molenaar.
“We’re installing blue roofs on many multi-family homes, which may contain dozens of people,” Miller says, “so while 20,000 roofs may seem like a lot, it’s actually tens of thousands of people we’re helping to stay dry and protected.”
Homeowner Clive Phillips has seen his share of the Gulf Coast’s infamous storms; he has lived in Louisiana for over 50 years. He owns 12 multi-family homes in Gretna, Louisiana, each of which suffered roof damage from Hurricane Ida.
“Some people stayed, but a lot of people left because they had roof leaks, you know, water got into their apartments, so they left. The building had been without power for three weeks. So with a heat of 97 degrees plus 100% humidity, it’s unforgiving — it’s impossible to stay in a home when you’re dealing with that kind of heat,” Phillips says.
The many storms that emerged after the hurricane made some apartments unlivable, Phillips says.
Phillips signed up for the Blue Roof program about a week after the storm, noting that the absence of television and the Internet made obtaining critical information difficult. He learned about the Blue Roof program from a friend and completed his application online once his internet was restored.
“The application process wasn’t difficult…I did it online, so it wasn’t difficult to apply,” Phillips said.
His last property was installed about three weeks after he submitted his application.
“Some of these features are huge, so installation may take longer,” said Kevin Slattery, USACE Blue Roof mission manager. “we’ve had homes that required more than 25,000 square feet of our fiber-reinforced plastic sheeting, which is enough to cover five basketball courts.”
The job isn’t always as simple as applying slabs, Slattery says, sometimes removing debris is necessary along with replacing roofing material for harder-hit roofs.
Phillips, whose property had roofs installed on Sept. 28, is encouraging fellow Louisianans to be patient.
“You, FEMA, Army Corps and everyone else are doing everything they can and doing the job as fast as they can. Some people realize you can only work so quickly and some people are just frustrated that they haven’t gotten help yet… all I can say is help is coming – it’s not always as quick as we’d like. ”
Colonel Miller sympathizes with those waiting for their blue roof to be installed, as the entire process requires some advanced logistical effort from start to finish.
“It’s never fast enough if your roof isn’t covered yet. That sense of urgency is what drives our team to be fast and efficient – our installation rates are proof of that.”
The Corps of Engineers installed the 20,000th roof just 38 days after receiving the FEMA mission order. Contractors were on site from 2 September and carried out work. With recent estimates of about 1,100 installations per day, USACE expects the mission to conclude by the end of October.
“We’ll be here until the last eligible home has their blue roof — if they apply by the October 15 deadline, we’ll get it done,” Miller says.
Residents seeking a free blue installation can call 1-888-Roof-Blu or visit BlueRoof.us before October 15, 2021.
|Date posted:||10.08.2021 15:49|
|Venue:||GRETNA, LA, USA|
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