Contractors working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District install a 23-foot-tall concrete shaft enclosure weighing approximately 120,000 pounds as part of the guard wall at the Monongahela River Locks and Dam 4 in Charleroi, Pennsylvania, Nov. 16, 2023.

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Lock operator returns home to Guam to support Typhoon Mawar recovery

Nashville District Public Affairs
Published Aug. 11, 2023
Lock Operator Tony Certeza works Aug. 8, 2023, to lock through the Motor Vessel H.B. Stewart with barges of coal at Old Hickory Lock on the Cumberland River in Old Hickory, Tennessee. He recently returned from a deployment to Guam in the aftermath of Typhoon Mawar that devastated his native island in late May. (USACE Photo by Lee Roberts)

Lock Operator Tony Certeza works Aug. 8, 2023, to lock through the Motor Vessel H.B. Stewart with barges of coal at Old Hickory Lock on the Cumberland River in Old Hickory, Tennessee. He recently returned from a deployment to Guam in the aftermath of Typhoon Mawar that devastated his native island in late May. (USACE Photo by Lee Roberts)

John Will (Right) and Anthony Certeza (Middle) conduct a site-visit June 27, 2023, in Mong-Mong, Guam, as part a two-person quality assessment and home inspection team responding in the aftermath of Typhoon Mawar. Certeza is a native of Guam and left the island 22 years ago for the United States. He then joined the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District. (USACE photo by Frederick Hoyt)

John Will (Right) and Anthony Certeza (Middle) conduct a site-visit June 27, 2023, in Mong-Mong, Guam, as part a two-person quality assessment and home inspection team responding in the aftermath of Typhoon Mawar. Certeza is a native of Guam and left the island 22 years ago for the United States. He then joined the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District. (USACE photo by Frederick Hoyt)

Anthony Certeza takes measurements in a home during a site-visit June 27, 2023, in Mong-Mong, Guam, as part of a two-person quality assessment and home inspection team responding in the aftermath of Typhoon Mawar. (USACE Photo by Frederick Hoyt)

Anthony Certeza takes measurements in a home during a site-visit June 27, 2023, in Mong-Mong, Guam, as part of a two-person quality assessment and home inspection team responding in the aftermath of Typhoon Mawar. (USACE Photo by Frederick Hoyt)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Aug. 11, 2023) – Old Hickory Lock Operator Anthony Certeza recently deployed to Guam in the aftermath of Typhoon Mawar, which devastated his native island in late May. He performed home inspections and literally assisted Guam residents, including his own parents who lost power and needed his help.

Shortly after Typhoon Mawar made landfall May 24, 2023, Certeza immediately contacted his supervisor and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District Emergency Management team to volunteer his technical services. With complete support and approval, he joined the Corps' emergency response effort and arrived in Guam in early June, ready to assist.

“What I saw was houses completely destroyed, debris all over the place, and families displaced,” Certeza said. “It’s a different feeling when it is your hometown. I was overwhelmed with emotion when I saw the damage to the island.”

Working as part of a two-person quality assessment inspection team, Certeza gathered information about the condition of homes and structures for the Task Force RISEUP roofing crews. 

The U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in coordination with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Territory of Guam, launched the Roofing Installation Support Emergency Utilization Program, or RISEUP, to help temporarily repair metal roofs damaged by Typhoon Mawar. 

Certeza contributed to more than a thousand roofing inspections, particularly on the northern region of the island, which sustained a lot of damage. He interacted with residents and determined if homes met the criteria for temporary roofing assistance.

“We completed a form with drawings of the house that included dimensions like depth, height, and width, and took photos of the entire house to complete the process,” Certeza explained.

Certeza grew up in Maina, Guam, before moving to the United States and in 2004 joined the USACE Nashville District. He would go on to serve in the repair fleet based on the Cumberland River in Old Hickory, Tennessee. In 2017 he began serving as a lock operator at Old Hickory Lock. As a Corps employee, he has volunteered for other deployments over the years because he wants to do something good for others.

Little did he know he would someday respond to provide aid to his own family.  His parents live on a hill in Maina surrounded by his grandparents, uncles, and an aunt. They lost power and had storm debris to manage. After 12-hour shifts during the deployment, Certeza would visit his parents and relatives to make sure power generators were serviced and operating properly, and to make sure they had enough food and water for cooking.

After serving for a month, he left Guam and returned to work supporting the navigation mission at Old Hickory Lock. But he returned knowing he had given his best to do good and be of service in Guam. And he felt relieved his family would be ok.

“It’s a humbling feeling to be representing the Corps of Engineers, which allowed me to help and offer my assistance to my island,” Certeza said.

So many Corps employees answer the call when natural disasters strike or to support overseas contingencies. Certeza encourages his fellow employees to consider volunteering to deploy, especially to help those who have lost everything.

“You make a difference in people’s lives during a difficult time,” he said.

The Corps of Engineers supports FEMA mission assignments and serves as the lead agency to respond with public works and engineering support and to coordinate long-term infrastructure recovery. Certeza worked on a USACE temporary roofing planning and response team that performed damage assessments and assisted with mission planning.

In addition to temporary roofing, USACE supported the island with temporary emergency power, water and wastewater facility assessments, and debris operations.

More articles and pictures on Typhoon Mawar are available at https://www.dvidshub.net/feature/Mawar. The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district’s website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps. Follow us on LinkedIn for the latest Nashville District employment and contracting opportunities at https://www.linkedin.com/company/u-s-army-corps-of-engineers-nashville-district.


Chick Lock

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