AS HURRICANE IRENE MOVES CLOSER TO EAST COAST, FEMA CONTINUES URGING ALL RESIDENTS TO BE PREPARED
FEMA and Federal Partners Moving Teams and Commodities Throughout East Coast to Support States and Cities
As Hurricane Irene moves closer to the East Coast of the United States, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is working closely with states up and down the East Coast to ensure they have the resources they need to prepare. FEMA strongly encourages all East Coast residents to take steps now to prepare for severe weather in the coming days and urging them to listen to and follow the instructions of their state, tribal and local officials.
The National Hurricane Center has issued a Hurricane Watch for the North Carolina Coast from North of Surf City to the North Carolina-Virginia border. A Hurricane Watch means hurricane conditions are possible in the area within 48 hours.
Under the direction of President Obama and DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, the entire federal family, coordinating through FEMA, is leaning forward to support our state and territorial partners as Hurricane Irene continues to threaten the east coast, having already impacted Puerto Rico. FEMA through its regional offices in Atlanta, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston are in constant contact and coordination with state, tribal and local officials that could be impacted or have already been impacted by this storm, to ensure they have the support they need to respond. FEMA's regional response coordination centers in Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Atlanta are operating at heightened levels to ensure federal coordination and support to states that may be affected by severe weather.
Since the federal government first began monitoring the storm, FEMA officials have been regularly updating President Obama and Secretary Napolitano on the federal efforts to support storm response and preparation needs. Earlier today, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate and Secretary Napolitano briefed President Obama on the latest preparation efforts with states and major metropolitan areas, including the pre-positioning of staff, teams and commodities across the entire East Coast.
"All residents along the East Coast should be paying close attention to this storm and listening to their state and local officials for key updates and information, including evacuation orders," said Administrator Fugate. "Now is the time to prepare your families, homes or businesses, so if you haven't already, visit www.Ready.gov or www.Listo.gov."
In advance preparation for the storm, FEMA National Incident Management Assistance Teams (IMATs) are on the ground in North Carolina and Virginia and arriving in South Carolina, today in anticipation of further deployment to potential impact areas along the east coast of the U.S. In addition, Regional IMATs are being deployed to Connecticut, Maryland, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont, to coordinate with state, tribal and local officials to identify needs and shortfalls impacting potential disaster response and recovery efforts.
FEMA has also placed liaison offers in state emergency operations centers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and with New York City emergency management officials. Liaisons are also deploying to New Jersey, Virginia and Maryland. These liaisons will coordinate with the state for any support needed and requested.
At all times, FEMA maintains commodities, including millions of liters of water, millions of meals and hundreds of thousands of blankets, strategically located at distribution centers throughout the United States and its territories. In Atlanta, for instance, FEMA has more than two million liters of water, more than 1.3 million meals, and more than 16,000 cots and 56,000 blankets. These resources may be moved to Incident Support Bases (ISBs), which are distribution centers located closer to the impacted areas, allowing FEMA and federal partners to proactively stage commodities closer to areas potentially affected by severe weather, allowing supplies to quickly be moved throughout nearby affected states, should they be needed and requested. Fort Bragg, North Carolina, for example, has been designated as an ISB to support federal operations, and ISBs are being set up in Massachusetts and New Jersey, to support states within the regions.
These commodities are meant to supplement state resources if needed, but it's critical that individuals and families build their own emergency supply kits so that in the event of a disaster, state and local resources can be focused on the most vulnerable citizens.
In Puerto Rico, federal personnel are joining commonwealth and local officials to conduct joint preliminary damage assessments, as weather permits. These damage assessments are the first step in helping a governor determine whether the scope of the damages are beyond what the commonwealth is capable of handling, and if additional federal assistance is needed. This past weekend, FEMA proactively deployed regional IMATs to the Caribbean to coordinate with territory and local officials to identify needs and shortfalls impacting potential disaster response and recovery, and on August 22, President Obama signed an emergency declaration for Puerto Rico, making federal funding available to supplement commonwealth and local response efforts in the area.
FEMA is coordinating across the federal government to ensure territorial and state officials have the support they need as they respond to or prepare for Irene. New actions as of today include, but are not limited to:
NOAA's G-IV research jet is scheduled to fly surveillance missions today and tomorrow. The G-IV flies at high altitude (40,000'+) to measure the steering currents surrounding the hurricane, improving forecasts of the hurricane's track. Additionally, the agency's WP-3D is also scheduled to fly multiple research missions into Hurricane Irene today. Flying through the eye of the storm at low altitudes, this aircraft collects research-mission data critical for computer models that predict hurricane intensity and landfall.
· The Department of the Interior units affected by the storm, primarily national parks and fish and wildlife refuges along the coast, are taking all appropriate actions and informing the public through local announcements as actions are taken. In the Washington, DC area, the National Park Service (NPS) is coordinating closely with FEMA other federal partners to monitor the storm.
· The U.S. Coast Guard will identify and track all vessels in port, establish contact with emergency management agencies at the local, state and federal levels, and work closely with port and industry officials to minimize damage in the event the storm impacts key shipping ports and facilities.
· The U.S. Department of Agriculture is releasing information on food safety tips in advance of severe weather. Visit www.usda.gov/disaster for more information.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has begun preparing its facilities along the eastern seaboard of the U.S. in advance of potential landfall of Hurricane Irene. Although all VA facilities remain under normal operations at this time, the Hampton, Va. VA Medical Center will be conducting a partial evacuation of its facility, sending some patients requiring advanced care to the Richmond and Martinsburg, Va. VA Medical Centers.
The American Red Cross is mobilizing disaster relief workers and relief supplies for an East Coast response. The Red Cross is opening shelters in North Carolina as local evacuation orders begin to go into effect. Additional shelters in North Carolina and other states are being prepared along the east coast. More information is available about open Red Cross shelters at redcross.org.
FEMA encourages everyone, regardless of whether they live in a hurricane-prone area, to take steps to ensure their families, homes and businesses are prepared for a possible emergency. As a reminder, the month of September is designated as National Preparedness Month (NPM), an opportunity to encourage Americans to be prepared for disasters or emergencies in their homes, businesses, and communities. Individuals and families can learn about events and activities, and groups can register to become a NPM Coalition Member by visiting http://community.fema.gov. NPM is sponsored by the Ready Campaign in partnership with Citizen Corps and The Ad Council.
FEMA's ongoing support of disaster response activities in Puerto Rico and its proactive support for East Coast storm preparations, does not diminish its focus from critical federal disaster response and recovery operations that continue, across the nation, including flooding in the Midwest and the ongoing recovery from the southeastern tornadoes. Every disaster is a reminder that they can happen anytime, anywhere. Now is the time to prepare--visit www.Ready.gov or www.Listo.gov for tips on creating your family emergency plan and putting together an emergency supply kit.
Follow FEMA online at http://blog.fema.gov, www.twitter.com/fema, www.facebook.com/fema, and www.youtube.com/fema. Also, follow FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate's activities at www.twitter.com/craigatfema.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.