The Northeast, and particularly the State of New Jersey, has been hit with significant flooding over the past few days.
We’re continuing to closely monitor the situation along with our state and local agencies, as well the National Weather Service forecast offices. At the request of Governor Christie, we will be assisting the State of New Jersey with preliminary damage assessments, examining the extent of the damage from the recent floods. (See this blog post about the disaster declaration process and spring flooding.)
As Flood Safety Awareness Week continues, the recent flooding in the Northeast serves as a great reminder of the importance of being prepared for floods. This is especially true if you are in a low-lying area, near water or downstream from a dam. Even a very small stream or dry creek bed can overflow and create flooding.
I encourage you to take steps to get prepared for flooding, and visit Ready.gov/floodawareness to learn more.
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The Northeast, and particularly the State of New Jersey, has been hit with significant flooding over the past few days.
National Flood Safety Awareness Week, March 14-18, is an excellent opportunity for all Americans to become more educated about the dangers that flooding can cause and what steps to take to be prepared for the risk of flooding.
The current flooding occurring in parts of the Midwest, Southern and Northeastern parts of the nation are a very real reminder that floods can happen anywhere and at anytime in the United States. Flooding, the nation's most common natural disaster can and does happen in every U.S. state and territory.
All floods are not alike, though. Some develop slowly during an extended period of rain, or during a warming trend after a heavy snow. Others, such as flash floods, can occur very rapidly, without warning or even any visible signs of rain. That’s why it’s critical to be prepared for flooding no matter where you live.
Here are some actions that you and your family can take today to become better prepared:
- Get an emergency supply kit - This includes items like non-perishable food, water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra flashlights and batteries. You may want to prepare a portable kit and keep it in your car, which would include copies of prescription medications and medical supplies and copies of important documents like a driver's license, Social Security card, etc.
- Create a family emergency plan - Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so you should know how to contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency. Plan places where your family will meet, notify caregivers and make plans for your pets.
- Purchase flood insurance – A flood insurance policy can protect your home, property, or business from the financial damages of flooding. Most homeowner’s insurance does not cover damage from flooding, so visit FloodSmart.gov to learn more. Flood insurance policies normally have a 30-day waiting period before they go into effect, so make sure you’re protected before flooding occurs.
- Be informed about your flood risk – As snow melts and spring rains fall, the National Weather Service uses several terms to help you identify the stages of flood hazard:
- Flood Watch: Flooding is possible. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information
- Flash Flood Watch: Flash flooding is possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground; listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
- Flood Warning: Flooding is occurring or will occur soon; if advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
- Flash Flood Warning: A flash flood is occurring; seek higher ground on foot immediately.
For more information about flood safety, visit www.Ready.gov/floodawareness.
The White House released an overview of the United States' response in support of Japan:
Any U.S Citizens in need of emergency assistance should send an e-mail to JapanEmergencyUSC@state.gov with detailed information about their location and contact information, and monitor the U.S. Department of State website at travel.state.gov.
U.S. Agency for International Aid (USAID) is coordinating the overall U.S. government efforts in support of the Japanese governments response to the earthquakes and subsequent tsunami that hit Friday and are currently directing individuals to www.usaid.gov for information about response donations.
USAID's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) set up a Response Management Team in DC and sent a Disaster Assistance Response Team to Tokyo, which includes people with nuclear expertise from the Departments of Energy (DOE) and Health and Human Services (HHS) as well the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).
Two Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) Teams (LA County and Fairfax County teams) which total 144 members plus 12 search and rescue canines and up to 45 metric tons of rescue equipment are also on the ground in Misawa, Japan and will begin searching at first light March 14.
The Department of Defense has the USS Reagan on station off the coast of Japan and the USS Essex en route, and is currently using an air facility in Misawa as a forward operating base.
The American Red Cross (ARC) International Services team is supporting the Japanese Red Cross Society (JRCS) to assess the impact, determine response efforts, and assist the people of Japan.
Officials from the Department of Energy, NRC, and other agencies have maintained contact with Japanese officials and will provide whatever assistance the Japanese government requests as they work to stabilize their damaged nuclear reactors.
With regards to the United States, the NRC has released information stating that Hawaii, Alaska, the U.S. Territories and the U.S. West Coast are not expected to experience any harmful levels of radioactivity.
Read the full update on whitehouse.gov.
As we spring forward an hour for Daylight Savings, it’s a great reminder to make sure you have a working smoke alarm in your home. Smoke alarms significantly increase your chances of surviving a deadly home fire, so we’re encouraging everyone to take simple steps to be prepared:
- Test and clean your smoke alarms today and on the first of every month
- Replace the batteries at least once a year
- Place smoke alarms on every level of your residence and in every bedroom
- Check the manufacture/expiration date on the smoke alarm (yes, smoke alarms have expiration dates)
And I also wanted to turn your attention to this article from the Portland Fire Department that tells the story of how a family’s fire escape plan saved the lives of two young girls and their mother, so please remember to practice your family escape plan --- it can literally save your life.
For more information about home smoke alarms and fire sprinklers, visit www.usfa.dhs.gov/smokealarms.
Please share these tips with your friends and family, and if you're on Twitter, join in the conversation by using the hashtag #imprepared after you test your smoke alarm.
From the National Weather Service:
All Tsunami Warnings and Advisories have been canceled for the U.S.
Damaging tsunamis are no longer expected to impact the U.S. west coast states, Alaska, and British Columbia. As local conditions can cause a wide variation in tsunami impact, the all clear determinations must be made by local authorities.
Visit this interactive map to see the latest, official NWS watches, warnings and advisories currently in effect for all types of hazards.
Yesterday, one of our updates about the Japan earthquake and tsunami highlighted the two Urban Search and Rescue teams deploying to support search and rescue operations. The teams are deploying at the request of the Japanese government, under the direction of the U.S. Agency for International Development.
See more about the Virginia Task Force 1 team (VA-TF1) as they make final preparations on Facebook or their website.
Today's earthquake and the resulting tsunami are another reminder of the need to plan for the entire community and not just plan for the easy scenarios following a disaster, as Administrator Fugate often says. Along with the National Disability Rights Network and other leaders and advocates from across the disability community, we signed a memorandum of agreement today at the White House. This agreement solidifies a partnership in working together to make sure we are planning for and meeting the needs of people with disabilities before, during, and after disasters strike.
Here's an excerpt from the White House Blog:
Under the leadership of President Obama and Administrator Fugate, we are changing all of this. We have taken several concrete steps already. And as Administrator Fugate said at today’s MOA signing – we must plan for the whole of community up front, with FEMA as just one part of the emergency management team.
Today’s agreement helps strengthen the relationship that Administrator Fugate and his team have already developed with the National Disability Rights Network and other key stakeholders. It will help FEMA do two critical things:
- First, it helps us plan for the needs of the entire community, for any disaster. That means planning for the needs of people with disabilities, young children, seniors, and all members of the “real” community.
- Second, it’s another step toward bringing the collective resources of the entire community to the table to help meet those needs.
Read the full blog post at Whitehouse.gov.
At the request of the Japanese government, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is deploying two Urban Search and Rescue teams to assist in search and rescue efforts in Japan after the earthquake and tsunami.
As you may have seen in the news, the California Task Force 2 (CA-TF2) and Virginia Task Force 1 (VA-TF1) teams are deploying due to their direct agreement with USAID. The teams consist of 70 multi-faceted, cross-trained personnel who serve in six major functional areas, including search, rescue, medical, hazardous materials, logistics and planning. In addition, they are supported by canines that are specially trained and qualified to be able to conduct physical search and heavy rescue operations in damaged or collapsed reinforced concrete buildings.
So how does FEMA fit into the picture? Here's part of our blog post when the CA-TF2 was deployed to New Zealand in response to the Christchurch earthquake:
You often hear US&R and FEMA in the same sentence, and the reason is because FEMA has developed disaster response agreements with 28 urban search and rescue teams located in various cities throughout the United States. The teams are locally managed, but FEMA provides funding and program development support for the teams.
As Administrator Fugate said this morning, our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected by the tragic earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan earlier today. If you would like to help the survivors, or families of the victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, please visit Interaction.org for information on how to donate.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) remains the lead Federal agency when it comes to responding to international disasters, and we stand ready to assist if called upon. Within the U.S., we're working closely with other members of the emergency management team to support State and local response operations from the tsunami if needed.
- If you're looking for a friend, relative, or loved one in Japan, visit the Google Person Finder on the Google Crisis Response page.
FEMA and Federal Partners Support States, Territories in Tsunami Response
Alongside our federal partners, we are closely monitoring the effects of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that struck Japan early this morning and stand ready to support state and local response operations if needed. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has issued Tsunami Warnings and Watches for a number of countries, including parts of U.S. territories in the Pacific as well as coastal areas along California, Oregon, Washington and Alaska.
At the President’s direction, FEMA is leaning forward to assist our state and territory partners. And as we often say, FEMA is not the team, FEMA is part of the team, a team that includes the entire federal family, state, local and tribal officials, the faith-based and non-profit communities, the private sector and most importantly the public. Individuals living in the affected areas need to take precautions and to continue to heed the information and warnings coming from their state and local officials.
Earlier this morning, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Administrator Craig Fugate briefed President Obama on the Department’s ongoing coordination activities with potentially affected states and territories.
Under the direction of the President, we are in close coordination with state and local officials, through regional offices in Oakland, California and Bothell, Washington, and the pacific area office in Honolulu, Hawaii. In addition, we have commodities, such as water, meals, blankets and cots, prepositioned in Hawaii, Guam, and the Bay area of California should a request be made.
There have been no requests for federal assistance from U.S. states or territories at this time, however, we and our federal partners stand ready to provide support if a request is made by a Governor. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) remains the lead federal agency when it comes to responding to international disasters.
Here is additional information on the coordination efforts from our Federal partners:
U.S. Coast Guard rescue crews are making preparations through the main Hawaiian Islands to provide post-tsunami support following any potential impacts.
The Department of Defense has positioned National Guard personnel in county emergency operation centers in Hawaii, additional aircraft and personnel have been placed on standby if needed.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is deploying a Disaster Medical Assistance Team of more than 35 healthcare professionals and an Incident Response Coordination Team to Travis Air Force Base in California, as well as caches of medical equipment and supplies. From the Air Force base, the teams and equipment can deploy quickly wherever they are needed if requested by states or territories in the region or by the government of Japan.
The HHS Administration on Aging is monitoring the situation through its state, tribal and local Agencies on Aging, in impacted areas, to ensure safety of older adults in potentially impacted areas.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is closely monitoring conditions near the Diablo Canyon Power Plant, located near San Luis Obispo, CA. The NRC is working closely with its resident inspectors who are on site to ensure safe operating.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and its Pacific Tsunami Warning Center are monitoring conditions and issuing warnings and advisory updates as available.
The U.S. Department of State has a call center established for Americans seeking information about family members in Japan. The number is 1-888-407-4747.
While tsunami watches and warning remain in effect, we urge the public to listen to the instructions of state and local officials, and if told to evacuate – evacuate. We urge everyone in the regions who could be impacted to listen to a NOAA Weather Radio and their local news to monitor for updates and directions provided by their local officials.