The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency is warning residents along Gulf Coast states to take immediate action to prepare for dangerous Hurricane Katrina as it approaches land.
“There’s still time to take action now, but you must be prepared and take shelter and other emergency precautions immediately,” said Michael D. Brown, Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response. “FEMA has pre-positioned many assets including ice, water, food and rescue teams to move into the stricken areas as soon as it is safe to do so.”
Landfall is currently expected late Sunday evening, with the eye of the storm arriving Monday morning.
On Saturday, President Bush has declared an emergency for the states of Louisiana and Mississippi opening up FEMA’s ability to move into the state and assist the state and local governments with mobilizing resources and preparations to save lives and property from the impact of Hurricane Katrina. FEMA is moving supplies of generators, water, ice and food into the region for immediate deployment once the storm passes. FEMA’s Urban Search & Rescue (USAR) and Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMATs) are also staged for immediate response anywhere in the region. The funding and direct federal assistance will assist law enforcement with evacuations, establishing shelters and other emergency protective measures.
FEMA has deployed USAR teams from Tennessee, Missouri and Texas to stage in Shreveport, LA.. USAR teams from Indiana and Ohio are staged in Meridian, MS. Two teams each from Florida and Virginia and one team from Maryland are on alert at their home stations.
A total of 18 DMATs have been deployed to staging areas in Houston, Anniston and Memphis. There are 9 full DMATs (35 members per team) and 9 strike teams (5 members per team) in these staging areas.
Both Mississippi and Louisiana have mandatory evacuation orders in place for some areas. National Guard troops have been deployed to assist law enforcement in evacuations.
Meanwhile, in Florida, joint federal-state-local damage assessments continue in the heavily impacted areas of south Florida from Hurricane Katrina’s impact on Thursday. The joint damage assessment teams are expected to finish much of their work on Sunday. Assessment teams are not only looking at whether structural damage to communities and individual homes and property exists, but also to what extent private insurance and other federal agency and volunteer organization programs will cover any damage found. This will help determine the need for a federal disaster declaration or if state and local resources can cover the remaining needs. The state of Florida has opened distribution centers in Homestead and Miami for commodities of ice, water and food. Power outages continue to be addressed and shelters are open for those in need.
FEMA’s Regional Offices in Atlanta, Georgia, and Denton, Texas, are monitoring Hurricane Katrina’s progress through the Gulf and are closely coordinating with Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama state Emergency Operations Centers. FEMA Advance Emergency Response Teams have been deployed to Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. FEMA has also sent Mobile Emergency Response Support vehicles to Mississippi and Louisiana. Eighteen Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMATs) and 3 Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) task forces have been deployed to the region for further dispatch when needed.
FEMA prepares the nation for all hazards and manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, trains first responders, works with state and local emergency managers, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department o...