Over the past six months, a sea of bright blue roofs materialized and disappeared across the landscape of damaged homes in Louisiana. This display is reportedly visible evidence of individual recovery efforts and the success of the largest plastic roofing project since the program began after Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
After Hurricane Katrina, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) tasked the installation of blue plastic sheeting on damaged properties to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). The labor for Operation Blue Roof came from volunteer groups and federal and local contractors hired by USACE from across the United States.
The 2005 hurricane season became the largest Operation Blue Roof program ever with 193,000 roofs installed as a result of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma. The previous record was set in 2004 when 134,000 blue roofs were installed after Florida hurricanes Charlie, Frances, Jeanne and Ivan. After Katrina and Rita, the State of Louisiana became the largest single recipient of the season with 82,000 blue roofs.
“The success of this program is a result of integrated agency cooperation. USACE handled Operation Blue Roof in the immediate aftermath of the disaster so FEMA could focus on other aspects of the recovery effort.” said Scott Wells, federal coordinating officer for FEMA. “This type of cooperation helped us move forward quickly after the storm to provide shelter for people living in damaged structures.”
The blue plastic provided temporary shelter and allowed for continued use of a facility for the short term while the permanent roof was repaired or replaced. The heavy duty plastic was available for pitched asphalt-shingled roofs on homes and public buildings; it is durable against the weather and once applied, is reportedly guaranteed secure for 30 days.
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