Operation Blue Roof has new home in Portland

Published: Sep. 30, 2022 at 6:48 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - Hurricane Ian is devastating people living in Florida, upending lives and ripping roofs off homes.

“At the end of the day, there’s a family that needs a roof over their head and we’re going to provide it,” said Colonel Mike Helton, commander of the Portland District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

During natural disasters like the one playing out on the east coast, Operation Blue Roof comes into play. Working with FEMA, the Army Corps of Engineers helps ensure people have temporary roofs for their homes.

Last year during Hurricane Ida, they signed up 5,600 people through the call center, connecting people to field crews who can assess their damaged home and provide a temporary fix.

“Stronger than a tarp you’d go buy at Home Depot. It’s a reinforced plastic sheeting and it comes on large rolls. Contractors are trained to take these large rolls; they cover the roof with it in an appropriate way and nail it to the roof,” Call Center Manager, Jonathan Jenkins, said. “The intent is to keep the home habitable until they can have repairs made.”

People can apply to get a roof online, but if they don’t have access to the internet, they can call Corps of Engineers volunteers at Operation Blue Roof, who will start the process for them.

The plan was to move the call center from Jacksonville to the Portland District next year, away from the path of hurricanes, but Hurricane Ian changed their plans.

“This was a short-notice mission. We found out last Friday we were getting this mission and it’s been nothing but positivity, nothing but a can do attitude,” Helton said.

The Corps of Engineers volunteers are training now to be ready at a moment’s notice and are prepared to serve as long as needed.

“We set this call center up in less than a week and we’re ready to roll,” Helton said.