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The US Army Corps of Engineers, in collaboration with FEMA and the state of Louisiana, has established a pilot initiative to investigate temporary roofing solutions for properties that would otherwise be ineligible for the USACE Operation Blue Roof program.

According to USACE, many properties that may require aid are ineligible under the existing scheme. The Corps does not install temporary roofing on certain types of metal roofs, flat surfaces, tile, or slate roofs, or if the roof has more than 50% structural damage. Traditional blue roof installs include nailing through furring strips straight into the roof, which might end up causing greater damage to the roof, according to temporary roofing program manager Josh Marx.

Roof Wrap, a new pilot initiative, instead investigates the use of shrink wrap material, which reduces or eliminates the necessity for nails into the roof. When the material is attached to the house, it is heated, which shrinks it and makes a watertight seal over the roof.

Marx stated that the program has been on the table for numerous years but has never materialized. The difference this year was the speed with which the Hurricane Ida blue roof mission was completed, which allowed teams to consider potential program enhancements.

Col. Zachary Miller, commander of the US Army Corps of Engineers’ Memphis District and the Hurricane Ida Recovery Field Office, expressed optimism about the new program’s potential applications. “If this trial program performs as planned, it might be a game changer for survivors in need of a temporary roof following a large storm,” he added. “Disasters may destroy an area, but being able to rehabilitate in your own house is a win-win situation for both the survivor and the community.”

The USACE chose 18 homes to participate in the pilot program; a full analysis of the building operations will follow.

Diane Gros, a resident in Donaldsonville, Louisiana, claims she was initially refused USACE help for roof damage due to her slate roof. She said she was relieved to get the call asking if she wanted to be a part of the pilot program since she had exhausted all of her alternatives for making the necessary repairs to her property and didn’t have insurance. She stated that the roof wrap repairs are working as intended and that she is grateful for the assistance she has gotten.

“I want to thank you everyone for what you’re doing,” she remarked. “Nobody was willing to help me until you phoned. What you’re doing is incredible.”

After all data is obtained, USACE and FEMA leadership will make a final judgment on whether to include the program as an extra option in future catastrophes.

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