FEMA: As Hurricane Irene Makes Landfall, FEMA Urges East Coast Residents To Focus On Immediate Safety, Follow The Directions Of Local Officials
As Hurricane Irene makes landfall in North Carolina and continues to move up the East Coast, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and its federal partners have teams and commodities pre-staged in states up and down the East Coast, to ensure state, tribal and local officials have the resources they need for immediate response efforts. FEMA continues to encourage all those living in Irene's path to finalize preparations for severe weather, monitor news and weather reports, and closely follow the instructions of state and local officials.
As FEMA continues coordinating closely with all its federal, state, tribal and local partners, as well as private sector groups, faith-based and voluntary organizations, and other partners, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate are continuing to provide daily briefings to President Obama on these efforts. Following this morning's situational briefing with the President, he visited FEMA to tour its response and coordination operations center, and participate in a video teleconference where he heard operational updates from governors and emergency managers in impacted areas along the East Coast including North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont. These VTCs are held daily during major federal responses, and have been conducted since Monday in advance of Hurricane Irene.
Earlier today, Secretary Napolitano and Administrator Fugate reiterated the importance of public preparedness at a press conference Saturday, with Secretary Napolitano, National Hurricane Center Director Bill Read, American Red Cross President Gail McGovern, and Major George Hood of the Salvation Army.
"Regardless of its category, Hurricane Irene is a large and dangerous storm, and it's important that all residents along the East Coast heed the warnings and follow the directions of their state and local officials," said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. "Now is the time to finalize preparations and monitor the news for information and directions. If you're told to evacuate, it's important to follow these instructions. Visit Ready.gov or Listo.gov for steps you can take to better protect yourself and your family.
Hurricane Irene made landfall on the coast of North Carolina this morning and is moving northward. For the latest information on storm updates and warnings, visit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Hurricane Center website.
Emergency shelters are being opened in coordination with states, localities and the Red Cross along the East Coast up to New England as evacuations are announced along the coast and low-lying areas. The Red Cross has shelter information available for residents who need to know where they can go. This information continues to be updated as more shelters open at www.redcross.org.
Under the direction of President Obama and Secretary Janet Napolitano, the entire federal family is leaning forward to support our state, tribal and territorial partners along the East Coast. FEMA has been in constant contact through its regional offices (in Atlanta, Boston, New York and Philadelphia), with the governors and local officials of communities along the East Coast. The President has signed Emergency Declarations for the States of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island and Virginia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, making available federal support to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety.
FEMA currently has proactively positioned a total of eighteen Incident Management Assistance Teams (IMATs) along the coast to coordinate with state, tribal and local officials to identify needs and shortfalls affecting potential disaster response and recovery. Six national urban search and rescue teams have also been placed on alert in the event that search and rescue support is needed, and the United States Department of Health and Human Services has deployed a total of five Disaster Medical Assistance Teams to staging areas.
The United States Department of Defense has positioned defense coordinating officers at FEMA's national response coordination center in Washington D.C ., and in FEMA regional response coordination centers in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Atlanta to support and coordinate any requests for defense assets and personnel. The Secretary of Defense has issued a prepare to deploy order for up to 6,500 active duty military in case they are needed to support response efforts. In advance of Hurricane Irene, the Department of Defense is also supporting Incident Support Bases at Fort Bragg, N.C. and Westover Army Reserve Base and Joint Base McGuire/Dix/Lakehurst, NJ for FEMA to stage commodities.
More than 1,200 National Guard men and women across seven states were called up to help coordination Hurricane Irene efforts, and there are more than 83,000 National Guard personnel available in the affected states that can be activated to assist with hurricane relief efforts, if needed. The United States Army Corps of Engineers have personnel in place at FEMA's national response coordination center and in the FEMA regional response coordination centers. The USACE also has a power response team in place at the Incident Support Base in Ft. Bragg, N.C. and is prepared to deploy debris and roofing response teams.
At all times, FEMA maintains commodities, including millions of liters of water, millions of meals and hundreds of thousands of blankets. These items are 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, 1.3 million meals, 16,000 cots and 56,000 blankets.
It's also important to remember that those living inland can still experience flash flooding and other severe weather, as well as power outages. The Consumer Safety Commission warns that portable generators should never be used indoors or in garages, basements or sheds. The exhaust from generators contains high levels of carbon monoxide (CO) that can quickly incapacitate and kill.
FEMA encourages everyone, regardless of where they live, 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). This serves as 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.
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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.
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