All natural disasters have one thing in common, people. People who are effected by the storm and the people who answer the call to help aid in the first response, recovery, and rebuilding.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has an extensive history of answering the Nation's call for aid after a disaster, and by working as a unified effort, they bring help and hope to those who need it.
The events following hurricanes Irma and Maria in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico were no different. After being slammed by two major hurricanes back to back, countless number of Corps of Engineers employees put their lives on hold to assist.
Eleanor Ervin, a Nashville District employee, and Greg Bertoglio, a retired St. Louis District employee, are two dedicated employees who have deployed in support of Hurricane Maria recovery, as well as a handful of other disaster response missions.
'I have been called a deployment junkie,' said Ervin. 'I have deployed for hurricanes Frances, Jeanne, Katrina, Gustav, Sandy, Irma, and Maria. I was also part of the team that went down to Louisiana in 2016 for the floods. I am not a junkie by any means. I deployed because I love knowing what I am doing makes such a difference.'
The Corps of Engineers has deployed over 10% of its workforce in response to Hurricane Maria.
'We have the brightest and most capable minds doing extraordinary work, and accomplishing the mission would not be possible without our people,' said LTC Roberto Solorzano, Puerto Rico Recovery Field Office Commander. 'The Corps of Engineers vision is, Engineering Solutions for the Nation's Most Difficult Challenges. I could not think of a greater challenge than the one we face here in Puerto Rico.'
Bertoglio is no stranger to the challenges of a disaster. He has deployed over seven times, and twice to Puerto Rico as part of the Temporary Roof response team.
'Puerto Rico offered its own unique challenges, the first being that it is an island. It also presented various logistic, geographic, and communication challenges, and it made the initial response extremely difficult,' said Bertoglio. 'Despite those challenges, the Corps of Engineers' has made tremendous strides to help Puerto Rico recover, and get back into their homes faster.'
Sustain lives with critical commodities, temporary emergency power and other needs. This statement is deeply rooted in every individual that deploys for the Corps of Engineers.
'Seeing the positive impacts the roofing team has had for the people needing assistance, getting them back into their home, has given me great satisfaction. Most importantly it means I have helped someone who could not help themselves,' said Bertoglio.
'I am committed to doing a good job, being excepted by my peers, and knowing what I am doing makes a difference. Deploying on disaster missions has been one of the MOST FULFILLING work I have done in my 37 plus years with the government. Just knowing that the work is appreciated makes me proud. In the big scheme of things, that's really all anyone could ask for,' said Ervin.