MOORHEAD, Minn. -- Five voluntary and faith-based organizations have received more than 100,000 bottles of drinking water from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), federal and state disaster officials announced today.
"This is water that we had pre-positioned at an Incident Staging Base (ISB) in Dilworth, Minn.," said FEMA's Michael H. Smith, federal coordinating officer (FCO). As FCO, Smith directs the federal portion of the disaster response and recovery efforts in Minnesota.
Rather than returning the water to a FEMA distribution center in Frederick, Md., Smith said, "we are making it available to voluntary agencies that can use it here in Minnesota."
Although the water, contained in half-liter (16.9 fl. oz.) plastic bottles, has a recommended expiration date of July 20, 2010, FEMA prefers to dispose of it much sooner.
"For health and safety reasons," Smith said, "we prefer to use water in plastic bottles as soon as possible." In addition to eliminating the expense of transporting and re-warehousing the water, he said, "we want to eliminate the possibility of the water's being exposed to extremes of cold or heat that could result in its becoming contaminated before its expiration date."
In disposing of commodities that it had pre-positioned for a disaster, FEMA makes every effort to ensure that all local voluntary and faith-based groups have an equal opportunity to obtain them, Smith explained. The distribution of FEMA disaster commodities not returned to FEMA warehouses is coordinated by FEMA's Region Five Voluntary Agency Liaison with Minnesota Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster.
The American Red Cross received 72,576 bottles, Hunger Solutions received 13,824 bottles, Lutheran Disaster Response received 3,456 bottles, Second Harvest Food Bank received 20,736 bottles, and World Vision received 34,560 bottles - for a total of 145,152 bottles.
For the Minnesota winter storms and flooding that began March 16, 2009, FEMA had 51 large electric generators on flatbed trailers parked at its Incident Staging Base (ISB) in Dilworth, Minn., where the water and other commodities also were stored.
Five of the generators were loaned to the cities of Oslo (one 704 kW generator), Climax (one 60 kW and one 35kW generator), and Hendrum, Minn. (one 270 kW and one 60 kW generator) for use in case of power failure. Those generators have been returned to FEMA and will be returned to the Frederick, Md., distribution center.
Ready-to-eat meals no longer needed at the Dilworth ISB have been shipped to a FEMA/state warehouse in Orlando, Fl., in anticipation of the 2009 hurricane season. Cots, blankets, and other disaster-related supplies from Dilworth have been sent to the Frederick, Md., distribution center.
When a disaster such as flooding or a hurricane is anticipated, FEMA works in conjunction with state and local partners to pre-position life-saving and life-sustaining supplies such as water, generators, meals, cots, blankets and tarps so that they can reach the impacted areas as quickly as possible.
When the need to distribute these commodities arises during a disaster, FEMA, state and local agencies play key roles to ensure that supplies reach the population in need. While working toward similar goals, the role played by each level of government is different. As such, commodities are distributed in the following fashion:
State & Local Role
- When disaster victims are in dire need of supplies, local jurisdictions attempt to fill the need from existing resources. When unable, the requirements are forwarded to a county or state jurisdiction.
- Once a request is received, the county or state will work from existing or commercial resources to address the local need by signing an Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) or mutual aid a...