FEMA’s taken its hard-learned lessons to heart, and is dedicated now to ensuring its communication remains strong as the country begins to feel the effects of Hurricane Sandy. Here, we share another FEMA update that covers what both state and local agencies are doing, as well as providing resources for the public to stay safe and well informed.
As Hurricane Sandy approaches…
According to the NOAA National Weather Service 2 p.m. advisory, hurricane force winds are expected along portions of the coast between Chincoteague, Va. And Chatham, Mass. Tropical Storm force winds are expected north of Chatham to Merrimack River, Mass., the lower Chesapeake Bay and south of Chincoteague to Duck, North Carolina. Hurricane Sandy is expected to produce significant precipitation over widespread areas causing inland flooding, coastal storm surge, snow, and possible power outages.
Individuals in the region should continue to monitor NOAA Weather Radio and their local news for updates and directions provided by their local officials. State and local officials make determinations and announcements about evacuations. We urge the public to listen to the instructions of officials, and if told to evacuate – evacuate.
The FEMA smartphone app provides safety tips and displays open shelter information at www.fema.gov/smartphone-app. To find an open Red Cross shelter, download the Red Cross Hurricane app or visit redcross.org.
To support potential pre- and post storm evacuations, in coordination with U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) through Emergency Support Function 8, FEMA has the capability to activate ambulance contracts to support state requirements to evacuate patients if needed and requested.
In anticipation of the potential impact from the storm, the American Red Cross mobilized hundreds of disaster workers, readying shelters and coordinating efforts with community partners in potentially affected states and the Department of Health and Human Services has two 50-person disaster medical assistance teams pre-staged in the mid-Atlantic, prepared to deploy quickly along the East Coast if needed. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers deployed temporary emergency power teams along the East Coast. Power teams consist of planning and response teams and resource support staff to assist with critical infrastructure.
The Department of Energy (DOE) is working closely with FEMA, and in support of state and local officials who are responsible for working with utilities as they prepare for storms, deployed emergency response personnel to FEMA Regional Response Coordination Centers (RRCC) in Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania, and additional personnel are on standby to assist. DOE is working with states and local partners as the electric industry begins the process of pre-mobilizing storm and field personnel to assist in power restoration efforts.
U.S. Northern Command deployed Regional Defense Coordinating Officers (DCO), and portions of the Defense Coordinating Element (DCE), in advance of the storm, to validate, plan and coordinate potential Department of Defense (DOD) support of FEMA’s response operations and to facilitate DOD support of life-saving and response operations. FEMA and DOD are establishing Incident Support Bases in Westover, Mass. and Lakehurst, New Jersey to position supplies including water, meals, blankets and other resources closer to potentially impacted areas, should they be needed.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is monitoring the storm and will take steps to prepare and protect FAA facilities and equipment that are in the projected path of the storm, including control towers, radars and navigational aids. The FAA’s top operational priority is to quickly re-establish air traffic service to support disaster relief efforts. The FAA Air Traffic System Command Center will maintain constant communications with the airlines, the military, business aviation and airports in the storm’s path. They will advise the FAA about their flight schedules and plans to evacuate aircraft from affected areas and the FAA will share information about the status of the air traffic control system and availability of air routes.
Take Action. Time is limited to prepare your family, home or business to lessen the impact of severe weather. Coastal and inland residents should ensure that their families have an emergency plan and emergency kits in their homes and cars. Some of the items in a basic emergency kit include: one gallon of water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation; at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food; battery-powered radio and a NOAA Weather Radio; flashlight and extra batteries; and First Aid kit.
Those in areas where the storm is expected to produce snow should also have supplies in their emergency kits such as rock salt or environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways, snow shovels, adequate clothing and blankets to keep warm and heating fuel like dry, seasoned wood for the fireplace or wood-burning stove. Both hurricanes and winter storms often cause power outages, take steps now to ensure you can sustain yourself for at least 72 hours if needed.
More information about what to do before, during and after a disaster can also be found visiting www.ready.gov and www.listo.gov. The FEMA mobile site (http://m.fema.gov), smartphone app (www.fema.gov/smartphone-app), and text messages (www.fema.gov/text-messages) also provide regular updates. Sharing information using social media tools is also a good way for residents to stay informed. Follow FEMA online at www.fema.gov/blog, www.twitter.com/fema, www.facebook.com/fema, and www.youtube.com/fema.
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.