The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, along with FEMA and the state of Louisiana, have launched a pilot program to explore temporary roofing options for homes that may otherwise have been disqualified from the USACE Operation Blue Roof program.
Many homes that may need assistance aren't eligible under the current program, USACE says. The Corps doesn't install temporary roofs on some types of metal roofs, flat surfaces, tile, or slate roofs, or if there's more than 50% of structural damage to the roof. Traditional blue roof installations require fastening nails through furring strips directly into the roof, which could ultimately cause more harm to the roof, temporary roofing program manager Josh Marx explained.
The new pilot program, called Roof Wrap, instead explores the use of shrink wrap material that minimizes or completely removes the need for nails into the roof. Once secured to the home, the material is heated, which shrinks it and creates a watertight seal over the roof.
Marx said the program has been on the radar for several years, but never worked out. The difference this year was the speed of the Hurricane Ida blue roof mission, which allowed for teams to look at potential program improvements.
Col. Zachary Miller, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Memphis District and Hurricane Ida Recovery Field Office commander, said he's optimistic about the potential uses for the new program. "If this pilot program works as intended, it could really be a game changer for survivors needing a temporary roof following a major storm event," he said. "Disasters can devastate a region but being able to stay in your home while you recover is a win-win for the survivor and the community."
USACE selected 18 homes to participate in the pilot program; next will be a detailed review of the construction activities.
Diane Gros, a homeowner in Donaldsonville, Louisiana, said she was initially denied USACE assistance for her roof damage because she had a slate roof. She said she was happy to receive the call to see if she'd be interested in participating in the pilot program because she had exhausted all of her options to make the necessary repairs to her home and didn't have insurance. She said the roof wrap repairs are performing as designed and was very appreciative of the support she received.
"Thank you all for what you are doing," she said. "Until you called, nobody was willing to help me. What you are doing is pretty amazing."
A final decision on including the program as an additional option in future disasters would be decided by USACE and FEMA leadership after all data is gathered.
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