Hurricane Florence battered the Military Ocean Terminal, Sunny Point, N.C. (MOTSU), with piercing winds and destructive flooding on Sept. 15, 2018, leaving the strategically critical logistics installation with eroded rail lines, washed out roads, and significant wharf damage. 

Truckers hauled the first 2,000 tons of fill material into MOTSU on Sept. 25, less than one week after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers put boots on the ground here. 

As the key ammunition shipping point on the Atlantic coast for U.S. forces worldwide, the MOTSU recovery quickly became a Defense Department priority, and the Corps’ Savannah District was chosen to lead the effort. 

In less than a week Col. Daniel Hibner, commander of the Savannah District, assembled a team of experts to assess damage and repair critical infrastructure. He tapped into the Corps’ vast network of expertise, including structural, hydraulic and civil engineers, to form his team. 

Professionals from six districts across the nation converged on MOTSU within two days to assess the damage and execute construction contracts, the first of which is scheduled to begin as early as Sept. 29. 

“No one has ever executed a process like this in less than a week,” said Tracy Hendren, Savannah District Engineer Division Chief. He added that the normal time to organize comparable efforts is typically measured in weeks, if not much longer. 

But Hibner didn’t stop with Corps experts and contracts. He made a call that got dirt moving on Day 3. This came in the form of the 27th Airborne Combat Engineer Battalion at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The battalion sent 93 Soldiers to support this rapidly forming task force and they were on site less than 12 hours from the execution order. 

The arrangement for a battalion was the first of its kind, and the result was swift execution and taxpayer savings.