WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As Hurricane Dean sets its course through the Western Caribbean, the federal government has geared up operations in response to the dangerous Category 4 hurricane before it makes its entry to the Gulf of Mexico.
On Saturday, the President declared an emergency exists in the State of Texas and ordered Federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions resulting from Hurricane Dean beginning on August 17, 2007, and continuing. The President's action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts that have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population. Following the announcement of the presidential declaration, DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff issued a letter of declaration calling for Hurricane Dean to be deemed an incident of national significance under the National Response Plan.
FEMA is coordinating with multiple federal agencies to deploy federal assets to support Texas as needed for evacuations, sheltering and other emergency operations to ensure the safety of the affected population. These agencies include Department of Defense, the National Guard, Northern Command, Health and Human Services, US Coast Guard, Department of Transportation, American Red Cross and others. The agency is also monitoring preparations activities in the Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.
FEMA Administrator Paulison has ordered mission assignments completed to ensure critical resources and operations as needed from other federal agencies are brought to bear in support of Texas. FEMA has made 26 mission assignments to other federal agencies and American Red Cross for support of Tropical Storm Erin and Hurricane Dean.
Some of the operations currently underway by federal agencies include:
Federal Emergency Management Agency: FEMA has activated it Regional Response Coordination Centers in Texas, Atlanta and New York. The RRCCs coordinate and sustain response operations, situational awareness, and communications with the states. The regions have also deployed Emergency Response Teams Advance (ERT As). A partial ERT-N (national) was deployed to the Texas RRCC. The National Response Center in Washington was activated last week in response to Hurricane Flossie and remains operational to coordinate federal assets and to support the RRCCs. The Chicago-based Federal Incident Response Team (FIRST Team) has deployed to Dallas and stands ready to support state and local governments with technical assistance, situational assessments and help in determining federal resources to request. A four-member Mobile Emergency Response Support team from Denver is deploying to support the FIRST Team in Texas.
Urban Search and Rescue (USAR): USAR has deployed 17 FEMA Urban Search & Rescue personnel to assist with Regional Coordination Center and Rapid Needs Assessment Teams.
Public Health and Medical Services: Three Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMAT) have deployed to San Antonio. Eight other DMAT teams, one Disaster Veterinary Assistance Team and one Disaster Mortuary Team have been placed on alert in anticipation of Hurricane Dean land fall. The CDC has shipped equipment and supplies for 2 Federal Medical Stations (FMS) that will arrive in San Antonio, TX on Sunday. If needed, each FMS has a 250 bed capacity and would be staffed by a Rapid Deployment Force Team of US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps officers.
An HHS Incident Response Coordination Team has been activated and will arrive in Austin, TX on Sunday.
Department of Transportation: An airspace management specialist deployed to Baton Rouge. Transit/Ra...