The Corps carries out its emergency response and recovery duties in partnership with many other Federal, state and local agencies.
When a disaster strikes, the Corps is often activated under the authority of the National Response Framework. The Corps role in the Framework is to provide critical public works and engineering support services, including planning, preparedness and response assistance, to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The Corps role is authorized by the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act of 1974. The Corps eight divisions, 41 districts and many labs are at FEMA's disposal under the National Response Framework. Specifically, the Corps has been assigned the role as primary coordinator for Emergency Support Function 3 which encompasses public works and engineering.
Under the National Emergency Preparedness Plan, the Corps and other federal partners conduct catastrophic disaster response training exercises year-round. These regional exercises help federal, tribal, state and local emergency responders refine their ability to deal with worst-case catastrophic disaster situations, including chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons attacks. The exercises also help the emergency response teams from the various agencies become familiar with one another, leading to smoother coordination and more effective response and recovery efforts.