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Posted 9/21/2017

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By Cheryl A Moore


Your Pittsburgh team comes out strong. Nope, not the Steelers.  It’s the individuals of the Pittsburgh District Corps of Engineers, who answered the call, and were among the first responders to have boots on the ground in Texas, even while Hurricane Harvey was wreaking havoc on the state. 

It was August 25 when Mission Managers, Howard “Kit” Tressler and Mark S. Ivanisin, along with Mission Specialists, Elliott Porter, Glenn S. Hawkey, Logistics Specialists, Robert J. Isler, Grover M. Pegg, Contract Specialist, Gregory M. Sies, Quality Assurance Specialists, Dennis P. Lapic, Michael H. Caldwell, Glen M. Clifton, John A. Parsons, Shawn P. Castro, Gregory C. Japalucci, along with Action Officers, Matthew Slezak and Norrice A. King, Power Mission Specialist Dominic Basile and Power Subject Matter Expert Timothy J. Keyser of the Philadelphia District, sheltered in place weathering the storm in Fort Worth, Texas.

Three days later the team, their contractor, and equipment arrived at the Randolph Air Force Base staging area in Seguin Auxiliary Air Base, Texas to begin their mission of installing emergency power using generators, supplied by FEMA Region 6. “USACE Temporary Power Team directs the contractor to perform the work and maintain the generators,” said Mission Manager Howard “Kit” Tressler. 

Over the course of the Mission, 68 facilities requested power assistance from Corpus Christi all the way to Beaumont. “45 facilities received generators to power buildings, lift stations, pump stations and other similar facilities,” said Action Officer Matthew R. Slezak. Overall 66 facilities were assessed with 21 not being required and closed, and two canceled with power being restored prior to USACE assessment. 

Tressler went on to say that the Emergency power mission they performed for the City of Ingleside was for a series of six Water Treatment Lift Station pumps. Due to the type of pumps, and unique voltage requirements needed to operate these pumps, and not having the proper size generators to full the requirements, all the members of the emergency power community had to develop a solution to meet the customer’s needs. 

Those members included, FEMA, 249th Prime Power Soldiers, Pittsburgh District Planning and Response team members and the contractor IAP. 

Task Problem: Pumps required low voltage to operate. “Our inventory had no generators that could provide such low voltage, and using any of our FEMA generators for this type of hook up without some type of protection for the generators would have resulted in permanent damage to them by Wet Stacking the generator, and possibly damaging the pumps,” said Tressler. 

Solution: Collectively they came up with a plan to use the generators in their inventory, and protect FEMA generators by having the IAP Contractor assign one mechanic to these generators and monitor them on a daily basis and periodically attach a load bank to them.

Tressler said, “We as a team were constantly in contact with Mayor JoAnn Ehmann, Mayor of the City of Ingleside, as this plan developed and during the entire time these pumps operated until commercial power was restored to these sites.

Tressler, who has been performing these types of missions since Katrina felt especially honored to be part of such an important service to our country, as he read, and shared with the entire Task Force Temporary Emergency Power Team, a hand written thank you letter from Mayor Ehmann. 

He humbly said, “All members of the emergency power community have a part in every mission the Planning and Response Team members perform. There is no single entity that would be able to accomplish this mission without the other. 

Sort of like their hometown team, the Steelers. With this mission successfully behind them the team headed back to their home turf September 20.