Federal Employees Will Help Harvey Survivors Recover

By Kathryn Troutman, Published September 1, 2017


There is a silver lining to Harvey’s historic storm clouds, which will deeply affect parts of Texas and Louisiana for years to come: It’s those countless residents who ventured out in their own boats and boots to rescue their neighbors, demonstrating an inspiring drive to serve. Now, whether through existing civil service job vacancies or future ones that will be created in response to this monumental disaster, citizens will have professional opportunities to serve their government and its people in their time of need.

“The federal government has a large role in disaster response – everything from weather forecasters at NOAA (50+ current openings) to FEMA workers (50+ openings), professionals at HUD (50+ openings), and the USDA (200+ openings),” said Mallory Barg Bulman, vice president of research and evaluation at The Partnership for Public Service, in an interview with The Resume Place. “And we have leadership and staffing vacancies at some of these agencies.”

If the federal response to Hurricane Katrina is any indication, the looming recovery and rebuilding challenges will require the good work of thousands of federal employees in many agencies and departments.

The Department of Transportation (200+ openings) will help with the logistics of getting supplies and materials where they need to go, often in the most trying of circumstances. The Department of Education (6,000+ openings) may be called on to help re-register schoolchildren whose families were displaced by Harvey. The Labor Department (25+ openings) may be needed to aid displaced workers. The United States Health Service (1,000+ openings) likely will monitor flooded areas for outbreaks of infectious disease; even professionals in Veterinary Medical Assistance (several openings) may be needed, as they were after Katrina.

Employees in other federal departments may be asked to fill in on the disaster response. “Beginning in late 2005, employees from across the government went for short-term tours of duty in affected areas, to help out,” said Bulman. The IRS (about 200 openings), which has many call center employees available when it’s not tax season, temporarily redeployed some of those workers to answer calls from hurricane survivors seeking services from FEMA.

Much technical expertise will be required, including Army Corps of Engineers (500+ openings) assessments of the successes and failures of the infrastructure that was designed to protect Houston and other communities in the region from flooding. And Bulman points out that in the aftermath of Katrina, the government deployed a geo-addressing system to help homeowners communicate the location of their homes on blocks of New Orleans where street signs had been washed away.

The opportunities to lend a helping hand as a federal employee will be as varied as Harvey was fearsome. It will take weeks, months, and maybe years for all federal recovery efforts to take shape. But the work is already underway, and it is likely to accelerate rapidly. So take a look at the thousands of job announcements posted now on USAJOBS, or contact us if we can be of assistance.


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