WASHINGTON - At the direction of President Obama, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is coordinating the federal government's support and preparations to support states potentially affected by Hurricane Sandy. Today, the President was briefed by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, National Hurricane Center Director Dr. Rick Knabb, and Homeland Security Advisor John Brennan on Hurricane Sandy and ongoing federal actions to prepare for the storm as it continues to move toward the United States mainland. The President has directed Administrator Fugate to ensure that federal partners continue to bring all available resources to bear to support state and local responders in potentially affected areas along the Eastern seaboard as they prepare for severe weather.
FEMA and its federal partners, through our National Response Coordination Center in Washington and our regional offices in Atlanta, Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston, continue to closely monitor Hurricane Sandy and remain in close contact with state emergency management partners in potentially affected states along the East Coast.
In advance of any potential impacts of the storm, and in coordination with the states, FEMA proactively deployed liaison officers to emergency operation centers in the District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Virginia to help coordinate if additional support is needed. In addition, and at the request of the states, FEMA deployed Incident Management Assistance Teams to states along the East Coast including Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia to assist state and local partners as they prepare for the severe weather. FEMA Incident Management Assistance Teams are rapid-response teams comprised of trained, specialized personnel able to deploy within hours to help coordinate with state officials to identify needs and shortfalls impacting disaster response.
U.S. Northern Command deployed Regional Defense Coordinating Officers (DCO), and portions of the Defense Coordinating Element (DCE), in advance of the storm, to validate, plan and coordinate potential Department of Defense (DOD) support of FEMA's response operations and to facilitate DOD support of life-saving and response operations. FEMA and DOD are establishing Incident Support Bases in Westover, Mass. and Lakehurst, New Jersey to position supplies including water, meals, blankets and other resources closer to potentially impacted areas, should they be needed. 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, including Atlanta, Ga. and Frederick, Md., if needed and requested.
“This is a large storm that is forecasted to impact the Mid-Atlantic and other parts of the East Coast with strong winds, coastal flooding, inland flooding, rain and snow,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. “People should be ready for the possibility of power outages paired with cold temperatures. Now is the time to prepare – review your emergency plans, check your supplies and stay informed.”
According to the NOAA National Weather Service 2 p.m. advisory, tropical storm warnings and watches remain in effect for portions of the coastal areas in the Carolinas. In addition, gale, storm and high wind watches and warnings are in effect for some areas.
The Department of Energy (DOE) is working closely with FEMA, and in support of state and local officials who are responsible for working with utilities as they prepare for storms, deployed emergency response personnel to FEMA Regional Response Coordination Centers (RRCC) in Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania, and additional personnel are on standby to assist. DOE is working with states and local partners as the electric industry begins the process of pre-mobilizing storm and field personnel to assist in power restoration efforts. The Department will provide Hurricane Sandy Situation Reports as appropriate once the storm hits. These reports will be available to the public and will detail the storm’s impacts and the restoration activities being taken by the energy sector.
In anticipation of the potential impact from the storm, the American Red Cross is mobilizing hundreds of disaster workers, readying shelters and coordinating efforts with community partners in potentially affected states. Relief supplies like cots, blankets, ready to eat meals and snacks also are being moved into place to support sheltering efforts. To find an open Red Cross shelter, download the Red Cross Hurricane app or visit redcross.org.
The U.S. Coast Guard continues to assess and advise status of ports along the East Coast and encourages boat owners to take safety precautions to secure their boats. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reminds individuals that there are tips that they can take now to prepare in advance for a power outage. This information is distributed publicly and also found on their websites.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is monitoring the storm and will take steps to prepare and protect FAA facilities and equipment that are in the projected path of the storm, including control towers, radars and navigational aids. The FAA’s top operational priority is to quickly re-establish air traffic service to support disaster relief efforts. The FAA Air Traffic System Command Center will maintain constant communications with the airlines, the military, business aviation and airports in the storm’s path. They will advise the FAA about their flight schedules and plans to evacuate aircraft from affected areas and the FAA will share information about the status of the air traffic control system and availability of air routes.
Now is the time to prepare your family, home or business to lessen the impact of severe weather. Coastal and inland residents should ensure that their families have an emergency plan and emergency kits in their homes and cars. Some of the items in a basic emergency kit include: one gallon of water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation; at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food; battery-powered radio and a NOAA Weather Radio; flashlight and extra batteries; and First Aid kit. Those in areas where the storm is expected to produce snow should also have supplies in their emergency kits such as rock salt or environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways, snow shovels, adequate clothing and blankets to keep warm and heating fuel like dry, seasoned wood for the fireplace or wood-burning stove. Both hurricanes and winter storms often cause power outages, take steps now to ensure you can sustain yourself for at least 72 hours if needed.
Everyone should familiarize themselves with the terms that are used to identify a severe weather hazard. A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected within 36 hours. A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within 48 hours. A Winter Storm Warning means that hazardous winter weather conditions are expected within 24 hours. A Winter Storm Watch means that hazardous winter weather conditions are possible within 48 hours. The potential for heavy rains can also lead to flooding, or flash flooding in some areas. Driving through a flooded area can be extremely hazardous. Remember – turn around, don’t drown.
More information about what to do before, during and after a disaster can also be found visiting ready.gov and listo.gov. The FEMA mobile site (http://m.fema.gov), smartphone app (http://www.fema.gov/smartphone-app), and text messages (http://www.fema.gov/text-messages) also provide regular updates. Sharing information using social media tools is also a good way for residents to stay informed. Follow FEMA online at http://blog.fema.gov, www.twitter.com/fema, www.facebook.com/fema, and www.youtube.com/fema.