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Tropical Storm Debby forms in the Gulf of Mexico

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Today’s 5:00 p.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center has officially marked the development of Tropical Storm Debby in the Gulf of Mexico with estimated winds speed of 50 MPH and moving slowly in a northerly direction. We’re continuing to monitor the weather situation in the tropics through our regional offices in both Atlanta, Ga., and Denton, Texas, and here at headquarters. We are prepared to support our state, local, tribal and territorial partners as necessary.

The storm is located 220 miles South-Southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River, and a Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the Coast of Louisiana from the mouth of the Pearl River westward to Morgan City.

Since there is some uncertainty in the storm’s speed and motion we urge all residents of the Gulf Coast to pay close attention to weather developments over the next several days – especially those living along the northern Gulf Coast.

You will always hear us at FEMA talk about the need to be prepared. With the formation of Debby in the Gulf (and due to the uncertain track) we strongly encourage you to take the time to prepare your family, home or business to lessen the impact of a tropical storm or hurricane. If you’re unsure about where to start, visit Ready.gov/hurricanes today to learn how to make an emergency plan and how to create a family emergency kit.

Staying up to date with the latest tropical forecast information over the weekend and into early next week (as well as during all of hurricane season) is easy. Here is how you can get the latest from the National Hurricane Center:

We'll continue to post updates (as they are needed) here on the blog, and on Twitter and Facebook.

Beryl Update 2: Follow the Directions of Local Officials As the Storm Comes Ashore

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As I wrote in yesterday’s blog about monitoring Beryl, FEMA remains in close coordination with our partners at the National Hurricane Center in tracking what is now Tropical Storm Beryl.

On a more personal note, I just happen to be in the Daytona Beach area this weekend visiting family, and I am very appreciative of the information that is coming from state and local officials as it pertains to Beryl’s expected landfall. When it comes to severe weather and the aftermath they leave behind, FEMA always advises individuals to closely monitor the advice of local officials. The latest forecast track for Beryl has prompted tropical storm warnings from the Volusia/Brevard county line in Florida to Edisto Beach, South Carolina.

Staff in our regional office in Atlanta, Ga., and in Washington, D.C., are monitoring Tropical Storm Beryl, and as I noted yesterday, we have deployed a liaison to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Fla. to share information on current conditions with the regional office and affected states.

The latest from the National Weather Service shows that the storm has maximum sustained winds near 60 miles per hour, with higher gusts. There is little change in strength expected before tropical storm Beryl makes landfall, and tropical storm conditions are expected to reach the coast within the warning area from northeastern Florida to southern South Carolina late this afternoon, and continue throughout tonight.

As can be the case with these systems, dangerous surf conditions, including rip currents, are expected along the coast from northeastern Florida to North Carolina for the remainder of the Memorial Day Weekend. All of us here at FEMA encourage individuals to monitor local radio and television news outlets or listen to NOAA Weather Radio for the latest developments.

On another note, ironically, the hurricane season isn’t supposed to start until June 1, yet we already have our second named storm. As part of leading up to the start of hurricane season FEMA has joined with the National Weather Service to promote hurricane preparedness week – starting today.

On this first day of Hurricane Preparedness Week, FEMA encourages all individuals in hurricane-prone areas to know your risk and make a pledge to prepare at ready.gov/hurricanes. You can complete your emergency preparedness plan, update your emergency kit and Be a Force of Nature and share your preparedness efforts with family and friends.

You can save a life by sharing your readiness tips with others and encouraging them to do the same. Make a YouTube video on how you prepared, share information on Facebook, comment about the importance of preparing on a blog, or post a tweet using #imaforce. And if you’re on other social media sites, post messages there too.

You can also add our preparedness widget on your website to share the information with your website visitors.


We’ll continue to post updates on Beryl as needed, but you should continue to visit hurricanes.gov/ for the latest updates. And this week we’ll have guest bloggers as part of Hurricane Preparedness Week, so stay tuned.

Monitoring Sub-Tropical Storm Beryl

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Each year the Atlantic tropical season begins on June 1. Generally speaking, any given year during the Memorial Day weekend, employees at FEMA are “thinking” about the upcoming hurricane season…not actually “monitoring” a tropical system. However, this year we haven’t even reached June 1, and we’re already monitoring the second storm of the year. Late yesterday, the tropics developed Sub-Tropical Storm Beryl.

Because of the development of Beryl and the expected track, the National Weather Service has issued tropical storm watches and warning for areas of the southeast. The advisories are for Tropical Storm Warnings for the Volusia/Brevard County line in Florida to Edisto Beach, South Carolina; and Tropical Storm Watches for north of Edisto Beach to South Santee River, South Carolina.

With the impact focused on the southeastern U.S., FEMA, through our regional office in Atlanta, Ga., is closely monitoring Beryl. With tropical storm conditions expected to reach the warned area from northeastern Florida to South Carolina sometime Sunday, we have deployed a liaison to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Fla., to support our Hurricane Liaison Team.

As tropical waves or tropical storms can bring heavy rains and high winds, we are urging coastal residents to monitor weather conditions by listening to your local radio and television news outlets or by listening to NOAA Weather Radio. You can check your local forecast at weather.gov/ & hurricanes.gov/ and on your phone at mobile.weather.gov & hurricanes.gov/mobile.

It’s vitally important that you take steps to prepare your property and family and you should take steps now to get prepared for potential severe weather. Visit Ready.gov/hurricanes (Listo.gov para español) to learn how to prepare your home and family for a hurricane or tropical storm, including building an emergency supply kit and creating a family emergency plan.

Everyone should also familiarize themselves with the terms that are used to identify a severe weather hazard and discuss with your family what to do if a tropical storm watch or warning is issued in your area. Terms used to describe severe tropical weather include the following:

  • A Tropical storm watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible, in this case within 24 hours.
  • A Tropical storm warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected within 36 hours.
  • A Hurricane watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within 48 hours.
  • A Hurricane warning means that hurricane conditions are expected within 36 hours. 

We’ll continue to monitor the storm and provide updates as it warrants, and if you are in the potential areas, please listen to local officials. We’ll also provide updates on Twitter and Facebook, so you can follow us there too.

Atlantic’s First Tropical System Comes Thirteen Days Early

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Extreme (and not so extreme) swings in the weather occur all the time. We often experience warm days in the winter and cold days in the summer.  So I guess we shouldn’t be all that surprised when Mother Nature decides to launch her first tropical storm thirteen days in advance of the scheduled start of hurricane season (June 1).

Yesterday gave up the first tropical system for the Atlantic season with the formation of Tropical Storm Alberto off the South Carolina Coast.

As of this afternoon, according to the National Hurricane Center, the center of the storm is located 90 miles southeast of Charleston, South Carolina and is moving toward the west-southwest at near 6 mph.  Alberto is expected to slow down and move little through Monday, and after that it is expected to make a northeastward acceleration Monday night and Tuesday. On this track, the center of Alberto is forecast to remain offshore of the Carolina and Georgia coasts.

This early storm formation should encourage coastal residents in Georgia and the Carolinas to monitor weather conditions and take steps now to get prepared for potential severe weather.  Tropical waves or tropical storms can bring heavy rains and high winds, so it’s important that you take steps to prepare your property and family.

In fact, all those who live in hurricane prone areas should heed this early storm as a sign to be prepared for the season. Visit Ready.gov/hurricanes (Listo.gov para español) to learn how to prepare your home and family for a hurricane or tropical storm.

Tropical Storm and Hurricane Preparedness and Safety Tips:


  • Now is the time to be prepared if you live in a coastal area or could be affected by severe weather.  Build your own emergency supply kit—personalized with the non-perishable foods you like, your medications, personal documents.
  • Visit Ready.gov or Listo.gov for tips on creating your family emergency plan and putting together an emergency supply kit.
  • Monitor local radio and television news outlets or listen to NOAA Weather Radio for the latest developments. Your local National Weather Service forecast office is the best place to find information about the weather that may affect your area, so check your local forecast at Weather.gov or on your phone at mobile.weather.gov.

As we continue to closely monitor Tropical Storm Alberto, everyone should get familiar with the terms that are used to identify a severe weather hazard and discuss with your family what to do if a tropical storm watch or warning is issued. Terms used to describe severe tropical weather include the following:

  • A tropical storm watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible, in this case within 24 hours.
  • A tropical storm warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected within 36 hours.
  • A Hurricane watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within 48 hours.
  • A Hurricane warning means that hurricane conditions are expected within 36 hours.

With this early development of the first tropical system, FEMA is taking our part seriously as we monitor developments through our regional office in Atlanta, Ga.  We encourage residents to do the same.  After all, as she has proven once again, and as the saying goes…”It’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature.”

 

Helping Restore Vermont’s Historic Bridges to the Past

Vermont is a small state with a big tradition of maintaining its historic rural beauty. Tourists flock by the thousands to the state year-round to take in its gentle green mountains and sprawling farmlands interrupted only by silver silos, red barns and white-steeple churches. Many of these visitors come to admire the picturesque covered bridges spanning the state’s rivers and streams.

Before the historic flood of 1927, the number of covered crossings totaled about 500. But the storm completely destroyed more than 200. Over the years, the number of these bridges still standing has dwindled down to about 100.

Tropical Storm Irene damaged or destroyed over a dozen of these bridges, leaving ardent fans of these historic landmarks to do everything they can to restore them. (Some residents are so devoted that when one of the bridges was captured on video during Irene crumbling into the river, audible gasps and cries could be heard from bystanders.)

With help from FEMA’s Public Assistance program, many of these storm-damaged bridges are being repaired and rebuilt in a way that retains their historic character.

“We have the most complete collection of covered bridges per square mile than anywhere else on earth,” says Scott Newman, historic preservation officer at Vermont’s Department of Transportation. “We’re very proud of that collection and we work hard to maintain them in cooperation with the towns, and today with FEMA’s help.”

In recognition of the importance of preserving these portals to the past, whether bridges, homes or other buildings, FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program does not require communities to follow the normal federal regulations when rebuilding historic structures. However, owners and applicants are encouraged to make repairs in a way that lessens and prevents disaster damage in the future while retaining historic integrity. Although FEMA cannot reimburse the state for improved renovations, the agency can provide funding to incorporate certain mitigation techniques.

Bowers Bridge, built about 100 years ago in West Windsor, was knocked almost 200 yards from its foundation when huge hay bales careened down the flooded river and lodged against it. Its original deck came through the storm mostly intact, but its roof, which was replaced in the 70s, was badly battered. The top is now being rebuilt just like it was at the turn of the century – by hand in the old English joinery style, using wooden pegs and grooves instead of nails – but will be raised by 18 inches to allow more water to pass beneath it.



The Brown Bridge in Shrewsbury is another bridge that remains part of the community’s colorful past including tales of roaming bandits. Many residents in the community remember having picnics on it as children. Although the Brown Bridge did not sustain much damage – just a few holes from floating debris – the road on one side was destroyed.



To prevent this from happening again, the approach will be rebuilt with a fortified stone wall. Also, special material, known as geosynthetic, will be placed under the pavement to absorb moisture and prevent the soil from buckling the road.

Once these and other bridges are restored, there will be much cause for celebration. Says Shrewsbury resident Michelle Suker, “When I'm coming home I miss my bridge. I have told my girls that the day that we're able to cross the bridge again, I think I'm going to stop and get out and kiss it before we drive across. It will be an emotional moment.”

Rina Update 3: Now a Tropical Storm

Earlier today, the National Hurricane Center downgraded Rina to a tropical storm, and their latest forecasts say the storm will have a limited impact on the U.S. mainland or territories. As Rina is losing its strength, we’re also closely watching another potentially developing storm in the south Caribbean.

While it’s good news that Rina isn’t expected to pose much of a threat, the current activity in the tropics is a reminder that the Atlantic hurricane season lasts until November 30. As we near the end of the season, hurricanes and tropical storms are likely to form in the Caribbean, and can affect both coastal and inland areas of the U.S. and its territories.

The time to get prepared is before a tropical storm or hurricane threatens your community. You and your family can get started today by visiting Ready.gov/hurricanes, and by implementing some of these simple tips:


  • Create an emergency supply kit that will sustain your family (including pets) for at least 72 hours. Your kit should include water, non-perishable food items, a flashlight, extra batteries, a hand-crank radio, any medical or prescription items you may need, and other supplies. Download the FEMA App (Apple and Android users) to check off items in your interactive emergency kit.
  • Review and practice what your family would do during an emergency. We call this an “emergency plan”, and it spells out how you and your family will stay in touch, where you would meet, and who you would contact in case disaster strikes.

Connecticut: Simple techniques can reduce damage to your home

In my last blog post, I talked about how FEMA is reaching out in the community to help survivors of Tropical Storm Irene rebuild smarter. Since the response to sharing these rebuilding tips in Connecticut has been positive, I’d like to share how one Connecticut couple benefited from using some of these techniques.

Tropical Storm Irene’s fierce winds collapsed houses into the Long Island Sound along the Connecticut coast, and rocked some homes off their foundations. In many cases, second floors of houses along the coast were destroyed. Some residents said the storm was the worst they had experienced in 50 years.

One couple, John and Regina, even found seashells strongly embedded into the second floor deck of their house in East Haven. However, their home suffered significantly less damage than neighboring homes because of some smart building techniques that had implemented long before the storm.

A seawall, which helped deflect the force of the waves, was in place when John & Regina bought their nearly 100-year-old house in 2003.

The couple then implemented a few other techniques to protect their home against flooding, most of which were relatively simple to accomplish. Below are photos of these techniques in action – to learn more about protecting your home from flooding, visit Ready.gov/floods.

Elevate Critical Appliances & Outlets


They installed their hot water heater and furnace in their attic and elevated their house in 2006 – raising their deck to 14.5 feet above the surface of the beach.

Two air conditioning units and an electrical box are stored on a platform that fits them alongside the house, on the second floor level. The platform can be reached by service technicians and meter readers by a service staircase built especially for such access.

This staircase was built specifically to lead to a platform on the exterior of a home along the Long Island Sound in East Haven, Conn.
Above: This staircase was built specifically to lead to a platform on the exterior of a home along the Long Island Sound in East Haven, Conn. where two air conditioning units and an electrical box are stored. The equipment, elevated to the second floor of the home, was not damaged during Tropical Storm Irene.

Electrical outlets have been elevated at least four feet higher than normal.

Moisture-resistant cement board is being installed in this home.
Above: Moisture-resistant cement board is being installed in this home along the Long Island Sound in East Haven, Conn.; Electric outlets have been elevated to minimize damage during future flooding.

Protect the Exterior of the Structure

Breakaway walls were installed on the ground level of the house.

Breakaway walls (just above the sidewalk) helped reduce damages to this home.
Above: Breakaway walls (just above the sidewalk) helped reduce damages to this home along the Long Island Sound in East Haven, Conn. during Tropical Storm Irene.

Permanent storm shutters frame the front windows of John & Regina’s house; rolling shutters protect the back windows of the house, which faces the rugged waters of the Long Island Sound.

Above: Permanent rolling shutters helped reduce damages to this home along the Long Island Sound in East Haven, Conn. during Tropical Storm Irene.
Above: Permanent rolling shutters helped reduce damages to this home along the Long Island Sound in East Haven, Conn. during Tropical Storm Irene.

Four feet of sheetrock and insulation, damaged by Tropical Storm Irene, was removed and will be replaced by moisture-resistant insulation. The moisture resistant insulation will be installed behind a panel of cement board.

Moisture-resistant insulation is being installed in this home along the Long Island Sound in East Haven, Conn.
Above: Moisture-resistant insulation is being installed in this home along the Long Island Sound in East Haven, Conn.

Rina Update 2: Approaching Yucatan Peninsula

We continue to closely watch Hurricane Rina as it swirls in the Caribbean. Rina currently has maximum sustained winds of over 100 mph, and is forecast to approach the Yucatan Peninsula by Thursday morning.

While it is still too early to know whether Rina will affect the U.S. mainland or territories in the Caribbean, our regional offices in Atlanta, New York (responsible for supporting Puerto Rico & the U.S. Virgin Islands) and Denton, Texas are closely monitoring the storm. For the latest updates on Hurricane Rina or developing severe tropical weather, visit the National Hurricane Center online at hurricanes.gov (hurricanes.gov/mobile on your mobile device), or follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs through November 30, and late October can be an active part of the season as storms tend to develop in the Caribbean. So if you haven’t already, now is the time to be prepared if you live in a coastal area or could be affected by severe tropical weather. Visit Ready.gov/hurricanes (Listo.gov para español) to learn how to prepare your home and family for a hurricane or tropical storm.

Closely Watching Hurricane Rina

Posted by: Public Affairs

We’re closely monitoring Hurricane Rina in the western Caribbean.  According to the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Rina will gradually turn toward the west over the next 48 hours, remaining in the Caribbean through Friday.

While it’s still too early to know if Rina's track will affect the U.S. mainland or our territories in the Caribbean, Rina’s development serves as a reminder that we are still in a very active hurricane season.

Here are some tips for preparing for severe tropical weather:

  • Remember to include items like a flashlight, hand-crank radio, and a solar powered cell phone charger in your emergency kit to sustain your family for at least 72 hours.
  • Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another (i.e., text messaging), how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.

Visit www.ready.gov or www.listo.gov for tips on creating your family emergency plan and putting together an emergency supply kit.

And remember to follow local TV and radio reports for the latest conditions in your area, and visit the National Weather Service at weather.gov (or http://mobile.weather.gov/ on your phone) for the latest severe weather watches/warnings in your area.

Supporting Disaster Recovery in New England

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Even as the leaves change color in New England, many communities across the region are still working hard, recovering from the damage from this past season’s destructive weather.

At FEMA, we continue to work closely with our state and local partners that are still recovering from the tornadoes that swept through the Connecticut River Valley and the aftermath of tropical storm Irene. Both events affected homes, businesses and communities in all six states in the region. We continue to support individuals and communities affected by these disasters, and the recovery has come a long way, as this video shows:




Between June 1 and October 1, across New England, FEMA and the Small Business Administration has provided the following support:
 

  • 6,302 individuals and families approved for grants totaling $29,160,789
  • 434 individuals and families approved for low-interest disaster loans totaling $20,542,400
  • 52 businesses approved for low-interest disaster loans totaling $5,684,100

And as of Thursday, October 13, $4,841,388 in public assistance grants have been obligated for 416 local governments and private nonprofits. The numbers will continue to rise; our work here is far from over.

FEMA has set up offices across the region to ensure we’re working closely with our partners at the state, local and tribal levels, as well as voluntary organizations and others in the private sector. We want to ensure that every penny of assistance eligible under law reaches the communities that need them.

As New Englanders work to recover from the impact of the recent storms, FEMA continues to offer assistance and support to local and state partners across the region. We are proud partners in this recovery effort and remain committed to offer support and assistance for the remainder of the recovery effort.

For more on the ongoing recovery efforts, visit our disaster pages:

Connecticut – Tropical Storm Irene
Maine – Tropical Storm Irene
Massachusetts – Severe Storms and Tornadoes
Massachusetts – Tropical Storm Irene
Rhode Island – Tropical Storm Irene
Vermont – Tropical Storm Irene
New Hampshire – Tropical Storm Irene

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