Operation: Cajun Cleanup

AAR PDF Cajun Clean Up 


Operation: Cajun Cleanup

Duration: 10 days

Dates: 9/13/12 – 9/22/12

Locations: Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana

Executive Summary


On August 28, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. CDT Hurricane Isaac, the fourth hurricane of 2012, made landfall near the mouth of the Mississippi River and then a second and final landfall at 2:00 a.m. CDT in Port Fourchon, Louisiana.

In anticipation of landfall, Team Rubicon launched Operation: Bayou Blitz and deployed a 30+ person Task Force comprised of swift water rescue technicians, SAR technicians, and domestic team members to assist state and local parish officials in their response efforts throughout Louisiana. All response efforts were concluded on September 2, 2012 with Team Rubicon demobilizing their Task Force on September 4, 2012. Due to the success and relationships built during this response, Team Rubicon deployed on Operation: Cajun Cleanup to Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana to assist local jurisdictional authorities with recovery efforts.

On September 13, 2012 Team Rubicon assembled and deployed a follow on recovery Task Force comprised of two Emergency Management planners and eight other domestic team members from both Region VI and Region X to assist with efforts. Their initial assigned objective was to provide a common operational picture to the Parish EOC (Emergency Operations Center) on the volunteer efforts being conducted throughout the parish.


Upon arriving into the area, the TL, along with the team’s Liaison Officer, met with the Parish Emergency Manager to receive the operational briefing while the remainder of the team began working on administrative issues and individual duty assignments. Once the team had received their mission tasks and all administrative duties were completed, the team took the remainder of the day to settle into billeting, survey the area, and formulate a plan to accomplish the first assigned tasks. The team’s plan was to split up into three elements. One element was to provide command & control along with support for the field teams from the EOC while developing a volunteer management annex for the parish. The second and third elements were to act as field observers (3 on the East bank and 1 on the West bank). The observers were to conduct reconnaissance of the area and make contact with every volunteer, whether individual or organizational, to obtain contact information and activities within the parish.

This strategy proved to be extremely successful and within three days the team had successfully surveyed the entire parish along with developing a situation map which plotted all activities, organizations, and points of interest within the parish. This was crucial in providing the EOC with a

verified “boots on the ground” assessment of the actual volunteer efforts that were being undertaken throughout the parish.

Once all surveys were completed, the field observer teams shifted focus to assist local first responders affected by the storms so they could return to work to assist the community. Team Rubicon quickly began receiving work requests from local citizens to conduct debris removal, muck-out, and roof repair. Team Rubicon continued on work orders until being requested to assist Parish officials, forensic anthropologists from Louisiana State University, and the Southern Baptist Men in remains recovery & identification operations.


After wrapping up operations, the team relocated to New Orleans to stay at the Saint Hotel who had generously provided a block of rooms for the team to rest and recuperate at before their flights home. The following day all team members were driven to the airport by the Team Leader and all flights departed on time as scheduled. A stay behind team consisting of the TL and the team liaison officer conducted follow up visits with all of the local businesses and individuals who provided assistance and donations to support Team Rubicon. Team Leader Shane ValVerde spoke on Team Rubicon’s behalf to provide an organizational overview to the local VFW.


Total cash raised:

Less- Credit card fees:



Transportation: (fuel) 205.96

Equipment: 24.66

Food Lodging: 872.73

Authorized cash disbursements:


Net operation (gain/loss)


Shane ValVerde USMC / USA

Michelle Dulaney USAR

Jeremy Frazier CIV

Simmarron Evans USN

Randy Heutink USN

Mark McHugh USMC/AF

Wilma Martinez AR

Norm Voshall USMC

George Schmitt USMC

Erica Chomsky CIV

Lessons Learned & Key Actions

Lessons Learned

  1. 1. Working directly with and under the Operational direction of the local Incident Commander is key to securing a long-term relationship within that jurisdiction.
  2. 2. Obtaining a letter of expectations or at a minimum getting written into the IAP for the response is worth its weight in gold.
  3. 3. Whenever possible obtain mission tasks directly from the local IC or suggest mission tasks to him or her from the field. The more information you can provide from the ground the better.
  4. 4. Utilize a local whether it is a local TR member or a “guide” from a partner organization. This will provide invaluable local area knowledge.
  5. 5. Moving a team of 10-20 can become difficult in and out of a disaster area. When at all possible utilize passenger vans to transport the team. This will cut down on convoy operations and maximize time as well as reduce costs.
  6. 6. When possible, Identify lodging prior to entering into an area and then work on contingent and alternate lodging when that becomes unavailable. It will happen.
  7. 7. Garner support from the local community as much as possible whether this is in the form of cooked meals, laundry services, lodging, etc. It helps the local citizens with the emotional recovery process and provides logistical support for the team.
  8. 8. Keep your state VOAD informed as to the daily SITREPS for the mission. They can assist with efforts.

Key Actions

  1. 1. Create a pre-formatted template for developing a letter of expectations / authority
  2. 2. Create a pre-formatted template for developing a mission request form
  3. 3. Identify sustainable, portable, & modular lodging alternatives
  4. 4. Adjust the SITREP format to capture and reflect information pertinent to the VOAD
  5. 5. Establish SOP’s for reporting requirements & processes
  6. 6. Create a contact form to be filled out by team members who may come into contact with other organizations or individuals wishing to partner or assist TR