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Irene Update 4: Those Along East Coast Should Be Ready

Editor's Note: A list of emergency management agencies along the East Coast is below.  For our latest update on Irene, visit the Severe Tropical Weather category on the blog.
 

We’re continuing to closely monitor Hurricane Irene through our regional offices in Boston, Philadelphia, New York, and Atlanta. As the storm continues through the Caribbean, current forecasts from the National Hurricane Center project Irene may continue to strengthen and could make landfall anywhere along the East Coast.

We continue to be in constant contact and coordination with all of our state and territorial partners in the Caribbean and along the East Coast that have already or could possibly experience impacts from this storm. Yesterday, President Obama signed an emergency declaration for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, making available federal support to protect lives and property for all 78 municipalities there.

While the future path of Irene is uncertain, it’s important that those along the East Coast take steps to get prepared and stay informed as Irene approaches. Ready.gov/hurricanes has tips for getting prepared, and hurricanes.gov is the place for the latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center.

In an Associated Press story this morning, local officials along the east coast shared their concern as they make preparations for Irene. Here are some of their quotes from the full story:
 

"In terms of where it's going to go, there is still a pretty high level of uncertainty," said Wallace Hogsett, a National Hurricane Center meteorologist. "It's a very difficult forecast in terms of when [hurricane Irene] is going to turn northward."

"We want to make sure Floridians are paying attention," said Bryan Koon, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, who met Monday with the governor. "We are at the height of the hurricane season right now. If it's not Hurricane Irene, it could be the follow-up storm that impacts us."

"This is potentially a very serious hurricane," longtime Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. said. He led Charleston's recovery from the massive destruction of Hurricane Hugo's 135 mph winds and waves back in 1989.

"We must prepare for the worst and hope for the best," said Joe Martinez, chairman of the Miami-Dade County Commission.

Here’s a list of resources for state emergency management websites and social media accounts along the east coast:

Irene Update 3: August 22 Recap

Caribbean Area Division Director, Alejandro De La Campa provides the press with information about FEMA ongoing activities in support of the Puerto Rico government response operations to Tropical Storm Irene.
San Juan, Puerto Rico, August 21, 2011 -- Caribbean Area Division Director, Alejandro De La Campa provides the press with information about FEMA's ongoing activities in support of the Puerto Rico government response operations to Hurricane Irene.

At the direction of President Obama and DHS Secretary Napolitano, we continue to work with our federal, state, territorial, tribal, and local partners, as well as voluntary organizations, the private sector, and others to aggressively prepare as hurricane Irene approaches the continental U.S.  In advance of Irene moving through the territories, the federal government had taken proactive steps to support local officials and citizens.

The following timeline provides an overview of these and other federal activities, to date, to support these affected territories, states, families and communities.  For the latest updates on our activities, visit the Severe Tropical Weather category on our blog.

Recap for Monday, August 22:

  • FEMA, through its regional office in New York, and its Caribbean Area Office in Puerto Rico, remains in constant contact and coordination with the governors and emergency management teams from the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Puerto Rico, as they continue response efforts and begin to assess damages from the storm.
  • FEMA, through its regional office in Atlanta, GA, is in contact with emergency management officials in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and other states that could be impacted by Irene later in the week, to identify any needs and potential shortfalls.
  • FEMA proactively deploys its National Incident Management Team to North Carolina in anticipation of any potential landfall to the southeastern U.S.
  • U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Juan personnel conduct port assessments and aids to navigation verification in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to reopen the ports as soon as possible.
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s high-altitude research aircraft fly surveillance missions to assess the storm’s track.
  • FEMA’s Regional Response Coordination Center in New York activates to ensure that coordination of federal resources can be expedited and mobilized, should there be a request for federal assistance.
  • FEMA activates its National Response Coordination Center to 24-hour operations, to ensure federal coordination and resources are available to support the Regional Response Coordination Center and to monitor current storm conditions.


Sunday, August 21:
 

  • FEMA’s regional office in New York and its Caribbean Area Office in Puerto Rico continue their constant contact and coordination with the U.S. Virgin Islands Territory Emergency Management Agency and the Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency.
  • Both the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico activate their emergency operations centers.
  • FEMA embeds staff, called liaison officers, in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico emergency operations centers work directly with territory and local officials.
  • FEMA encourages residents in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to closely monitor weather conditions and listen to the direction of local and territory officials.
  • 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 Puerto Rico, for example, FEMA has more than 200,000 liters of water, more than 400,000 meals, and more than 1,400 cots and blankets, that could be used, if needed, to help with response and recovery efforts.

Saturday, August 20

  • FEMA proactively deploys Incident Management Assistance Teams to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, to coordinate with territory and local officials to identify needs and shortfalls impacting potential disaster response and recovery.
     

Friday, August 19

  • FEMA begins closely monitoring the large tropical wave that eventually strengthens into Hurricane Irene.

Irene Update 2: Get Prepared

Editor's note: Video added at 1:52 p.m. EDT.



Last night, hurricane Irene passed over Puerto Rico, bringing heavy rains and high winds to the island. Our regional office in New York and our Caribbean Area Office remain in constant contact and coordination with the U.S. Virgin Islands Territory Emergency Management Agency and the Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency, as Irene continues to move northwest this afternoon. A tropical storm warning is still in effect for Puerto Rico, Vieques and Culebra, so if you’re in the affected area, continue to follow the direction of local officials.

We currently have liaison officers and Incident Management Assistance Teams in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico emergency operations centers, working with territory and local officials to identify needs and shortfalls impacting potential disaster response and recovery.

While it’s still too early to tell how or where Irene may impact the continental U.S., it’s important that those in the Southeast, and especially those in coastal areas, take steps to get prepared. Visit Ready.gov/hurricanes for information on getting your home and family prepared, or visit m.fema.gov for hurricane safety tips on the go.


And for the latest forecasts from the National Hurricane Center on hurricane Irene, visit hurricanes.gov or hurricanes.gov/mobile on your smartphone. We will continue to provide updates about our role under the Severe Tropical Weather category on this blog.

(Para información sobre preparación en español, visite Listo.gov)

Irene Update 1: Warnings/Watches for Puerto Rico & U.S. Virgin Islands

(Entrada de blog en español / Spanish blog post)

Tropical storm Irene is currently churning in the Atlantic, where forecasters from the National Hurricane Center are expecting tropical storm conditions to begin in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands this afternoon. We continue to closely monitor the storm through our regional offices in New York, N.Y., and Atlanta, Ga., as well as through our Caribbean Area Office located in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

We have positioned Incident Management Assistance Teams in both the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, and they are in close contact and coordination with both the U.S. Virgin Islands Territory Emergency Management Agency and the Puerto Rico emergency management agency (en espanol).

As of 1 p.m. EDT:

  • A hurricane warning has been issued for Puerto Rico, Vieques and Culebra - A hurricane warning means sustained winds of 74 mph or greater are expected within the specified area in the next 36 hours.
  • A hurricane watch has been issued for the U.S. Virgin Islands – A hurricane watch means sustained winds of 74 mph or greater are possible within the specified area in the next 48 hours.
  • A tropical storm warning has been issued for the U.S. Virgin Islands - A tropical storm warning means that tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are expected somewhere within the specified area within 36 hours.

What you can do

Forecasts from the National Hurricane Center predict Irene will approach Puerto Rico tonight and potentially affect Florida later this week. Tropical storms and hurricanes cause high winds and heavy rains, increasing the risk of flooding and flash flooding, along with wind damage. If you're in south Florida, now is the time to get prepared.

If you’re in the potentially affected area, here are a few tips to stay safe:

  • Monitor weather conditions and listen to the direction of local and territory officials, which for the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico could include sheltering in place. Stay informed through local news reports, and make sure you have a hand-powered radio as part of your emergency kit,
  • If local officials give the order to evacuate, be sure to know your evacuation route,
  • Know what supplies you and your family will need to shelter in place, if that is the advice given by local officials, and
  • Find tips for getting prepared for a tropical storm or hurricane at Ready.gov/hurricanes.

Be sure to visit www.hurricanes.gov for the latest forecast information from the National Hurricane Center. We will continue to provide updates on this blog as well.

Other links
- Follow the National Hurricane Center on Twitter and Facebook
- Follow the Virgin Islands Emergency Management Agency on Twitter and Facebook

Monitoring Tropical Storm Fernanda

Late this afternoon, Tropical Storm Fernanda formed in the Pacific Ocean, and we’re closely monitoring the storm through our regional office in Oakland, California and our Pacific Area Office in Honolulu, Hawaii. According to the National Hurricane Center, Fernanda could strengthen some over the next 48 hours and become a hurricane by Thursday.

While it’s too early to know if Fernanda will pose a threat to the Hawaiian Islands, we’re gearing up for the possibility. To prepare for all hazards, FEMA has strategically prepositioned communities at distribution centers throughout the United States and its territories, so we are ready to provide supplies on a moment’s notice.

We currently have pre-positioned commodities on the Hawaii islands, including more than 197,000 million of liters of water, 134,000 meals, 31,000 blankets, 8,000 cots, and 85 various size generators.

And although there are currently no coastal watches or warnings in effect for the U.S. at this time, history has taught us that storm tracks can change quickly and unexpectedly. So if you are located in coastal areas along the Pacific, take steps now to prepare. If you haven’t already, visit Ready.gov/hurricanes for tips on creating your family emergency plan and getting an emergency kit.

Here are some additional safety tips to remember:
 

  • Follow the direction of local officials – if the order is given to evacuate, do so immediately. It’s important to know your evacuation route ahead of time. They may also direct you to shelter in place, so know what supplies you and your family will need to sustain you for at least 72 hours,
  • Stay away from low-lying, flood prone areas – these are most susceptible to flash flooding,
  • Keep up to date on the latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center at hurricanes.gov, or on your mobile phone at hurricanes.gov/mobile (FEMA’s mobile site has tips on staying safe before, during and after a tropical storm or hurricane)

Keep checking for updates on our blog as we continue to monitor Tropical Storm Fernanda.

Emily Update 4: Moving Through Atlantic, South Florida Should Get Prepared

Editor's Note at 4:45 p.m. EDT: The National Hurricane Center said remnants of tropical storm Emily have dissipated to an area of low pressure, and all watches/warnings have been cancelled.  They will issue advisories again at www.hurricanes.gov if the storm regenerates.

We’re continuing to closely monitor tropical storm Emily through our Regional offices in Atlanta Ga., New York, N.Y. and our Caribbean Area Office located in San Juan, Puerto Rico. As of 3 p.m. EDT, Emily continues to deliver heavy rains to Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and may affect southern Florida on Saturday.

We continue to work closely with the National Hurricane Center, as well as our partners in the Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency (en espanol) and Florida Division of Emergency Management.

Those in coastal areas, especially along the eastern coast of Florida and the southeast United States, should take steps to prepare, because history teaches that storm tracks can change quickly and unexpectedly. Tropical storms and hurricanes can bring heavy rains, flash flooding, and high winds, so if you haven’t already, visit Ready.gov/hurricanes for tips on creating your family emergency plan and getting an emergency kit.

Make sure you’re staying up to date with the latest forecast at hurricanes.gov or hurricanes.gov/mobile on your phone. For the latest on our role, visit the Severe Tropical Weather category in this blog.

And if someone you know is looking for tropical storm/hurricane preparedness resources in Spanish, visit Listo.gov/huracanes. For more information, they can visit the Spanish version of the FEMA full (fema.gov/esp) and mobile site (m.fema.gov/esp).

Emily Update 3: Get Prepared, Future Path Still Uncertain

In his video yesterday, Administrator Fugate mentioned we’re continuing to closely track tropical storm Emily as it moves through the Atlantic. Forecasts from the National Hurricane Conference are calling for 6-10 inches of rain for Puerto Rico today/tomorrow, and forecasts are calling for Emily to approach the east coast of Florida later this week. Through our Regional offices in Atlanta Ga., New York, N.Y. and our Caribbean Area Office located in San Juan, Puerto Rico, we’re in close coordination with our state and territory partners, including the Virgin Islands Territory Emergency Management Agency and Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency (en espanol).

At this point, the future path and strength of Emily remains uncertain, so it’s important that those in coastal areas along the Atlantic are taking steps to get prepared. In addition to damaging high winds, tropical storms and hurricanes often cause flooding and flash flooding that can be extremely dangerous.

If you’re in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, or other areas that may be affected, here are some safety tips to remember:

  • Follow the direction of local officials – if the order is given to evacuate, do so immediately along your prescribed route. This direction could include sheltering in place, so know what supplies you and your family will need to sustain you for at least 72 hours,
  • Stay away from low-lying, flood prone areas – these are most susceptible to flash flooding,
  • Keep up to date on the latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center at hurricanes.gov, or on your mobile phone at hurricanes.gov/mobile (FEMA’s mobile site has tips on staying safe before, during and after a tropical storm or hurricane)

Visit Ready.gov/hurricanes for more information on getting prepared for severe tropical weather.  Our Severe Tropical Weather category has our latest on tropical storm Emily.

Other links
Several state emergency management agencies have been posting updates about tropical storm Emily on their Twitter accounts, so here's a quick list of emergency management agencies on the east coast:

- Florida Division of Emergency Management
- Georgia Emergency Management Agency
- South Carolina Division of Emergency Management
- Virginia Division of Emergency Management

Emily Update 1: Warnings/Watches for U.S. Virgin Islands & Puerto Rico

 
Tropical storm Emily has formed in the Atlantic, and we’re continuing to monitor the storm as forecasts project it may affect the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and eventually Florida and the continental U.S.

Since our update earlier today, here’s the latest:
  • A tropical storm warning has been issued for the Puerto Rico and the islands of Vieques and Culebra. A tropical storm warning means that tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are expected somewhere within the specified area within 36 hours.
  • In addition, a tropical storm watch has been issued for the US Virgin Islands and Haiti. A tropical storm watch means that tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are possible within the specified area within 48 hours.

Through our regional offices in Atlanta, Ga., New York, N.Y. and our Caribbean Area Office in San Juan, Puerto Rico, we remain in close contact with our partners at the National Hurricane Center, Virgin Islands Territory Emergency Management Agency and the Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency (En Espanol).

Two of our regional Incident Management Assistance Teams have been deployed to the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to coordinate territory and local officials if federal response support is needed. (Check out this blog post to learn the value these teams bring to the emergency management team.)

If you’re in the potentially affected area, here are a few tips to keep you safe:

  • Monitor weather conditions and listen to the direction of local and territory officials, which for the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico could include sheltering in place.
  • If local officials give the order to evacuate, be sure to know your evacuation route.
  • Know what supplies you and your family will need to shelter in place, if that is the advice given by local officials.

Hurricanes.gov continues to be the official source for the latest tropical weather forecast from the National Hurricane Center. And if you’re on your phone, check out their mobile site for the latest information, or visit the FEMA mobile site for tips on staying safe before, during and after a tropical storm or hurricane.

We’re Closely Monitoring An Active Atlantic

We’re continuing to closely monitor a developing storm system in the Atlantic, approximately 1,600 miles south east of Miami. Through our Regional offices in Atlanta, Ga. and New York, N.Y., we’re coordinating closely with the National Hurricane Center and the states and territories that may be impacted as the storm further organizes and moves toward the U.S.

Although no coastal watches or warnings have been issued yet for the U.S., current forecast tracks show the storm could impact Florida and parts of the East Coast, and will impact the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico in the next few days. We encourage residents in these areas and in Puerto Rico (en Espanol) and the Virgin Islands to continue 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:

  • Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts,
  • Listen to local officials – if told to evacuate, leave immediately, following your predetermined evacuation route. If told to shelter in place, go to your designated shelter or safe area, and
  • If you have a boat, determine how and where it will be secured.

Here’s a look at what we’re doing so far:

  • Our regional office in New York has activated its Regional Response Coordination Center and is ready to coordinate with its other federal, state, and local partners as needed.
  • We have also proactively deployed two regional Incident Management Assistance Teams to the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to coordinate with territory and local officials to identify needs and shortfalls impacting potential disaster response and recovery.

Ready.gov/hurricanes has more tips on getting a kit, making an emergency plan, and being informed, so check it out for more tips on keeping you and your family safe. And be sure to visit www.hurricanes.gov or (http://hurricanes.gov/mobile on your phone) for the latest forecast information from the National Hurricane Center as this storm system progresses. We will continue to use this blog and our social networking sites to provide safety tips and updates on our role as well.

Other links
- Follow the National Hurricane Center on Twitter and Facebook
- Follow the Virgin Islands Emergency Management Agency on Twitter and Facebook

Tropical Storm Don Moving Through Gulf of Mexico, Watch Issued

As we mentioned yesterday, forecasts from the National Hurricane Center project tropical storm Don will affect south Texas late Friday evening or early Saturday morning. At this time, forecasters do not expect a significant increase in strength before it hits the U.S., however a tropical storm watch has been issued for the south Texas coastline, stretching from Brownsville to Galveston.

As we continue to closely monitor the storm as it approaches land, we wanted to remind you of what a “watch” and “warning” means when it comes to severe tropical weather.

  • Tropical storm watch = sustained winds of 39-73 mph are possible within the specified area in the next 48 hours
  • Tropical storm warning = sustained winds of 39-73 mph are expected within the specified area in next 36 hours
  • Hurricane watch = sustained winds of 74 mph or greater are possible within the specified area in the next 48 hours
  • Hurricane warning = sustained winds of 74 mph or greater are expected within the specified area in the next 36 hours

Since history tells us that tropical storms and hurricanes can change rapidly, it’s important to stay up to date with the latest forecast and information. The National Hurricane Center is the official source for updates on developing tropical weather, and you can follow their updates whether you’re at your computer or on your phone:

Please continue to listen to local officials (here's a link to the Texas Division of Emergency Management) and as always, visit Ready.gov/hurricanes for information on getting prepared for a tropical storm or hurricane.

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