(Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and FEMA Deputy Administrator Richard Serino hold a briefing with FEMA Regions in regards to Hurricane Isaac preparations.)
(FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate meets with MEMA Director Robert Latham (left) and Mississippi Gov. Bryant (center) to discuss Hurricane Isaac preparations. FEMA continues to support state and local partners as communities along the Gulf Coast prepare for Hurricane Isaac. Dan Watson/FEMA)
We continue to work closely with our federal, state, and local partners as Hurricane Isaac makes landfall across the Gulf Coast. Earlier today, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate and National Hurricane Center Director Dr. Rick Knabb briefed the President on ongoing preparations for the storm, and the expected track. This afternoon, President Obama signed an emergency declaration for the State of Mississippi in advance of the storm’s landfall, and yesterday, President Obama also signed an emergency declaration for the State of Louisiana.
The declarations make federal support available to help save lives, protect property, and preserve public health and safety in designated counties and parishes. In Louisiana, federal partners continue to support the needs of the local and state officials to ensure access to buses, paratransit for people with access and functional needs and ambulances.
(Scores of ambulances staged in Baton Rouge await orders to deploy to help Louisiana residents as Hurricane Isaac threatens to make landfall along the Gulf Coast. The State of Louisiana, FEMA, and other federal agencies are working closely, ready to respond where needed. Gina Cortez/FEMA)
In advance of the storm, FEMA placed four Incident Management Assistance Teams and liaisons on site at emergency operations centers in Gulf states and moved two Mobile Emergency Response Support teams and additional commodities to pre-positioned locations closer to the potential impact areas. FEMA also has distribution centers in Atlanta, Ga. and Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, and in coordination with U.S. Northern Command, has established supply sites in Shelby, Miss., Meridian, Miss. and Pineville, La. closer to potentially affected areas. Finally, Texas Task Force-1, a federal urban search and rescue team has been deployed to Louisiana. Other support teams have been identified and are ready to deploy as needed and requested.
As the Administrator mentioned yesterday, forecasts from the National Weather Service are calling for significant rainfall for much of the Gulf Coast as a result of Isaac. As a result, flooding is likely to occur. We urge coastal and inland residents to be familiar with flood and flash flood terminology and safety tips:
- Driving through a flooded area can be extremely hazardous. Almost half of all flash flood deaths happen in vehicles. When in your car, look out for flooding in low lying areas, at bridges, and at highway dips. As little as six inches of water may cause you to lose control of your vehicle. Remember – turn around, don’t drown.
- The National Weather Service is the official source for weather information and severe weather watches and warnings, so follow your forecast at http://www.weather.gov/ on your computer or http://mobile.weather.gov/ on your phone.
- Flood Watch: Flooding is possible. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
- Flood Warning: Flooding is occurring or will occur soon; if local officials give notice to evacuate, do so immediately.
- Flash Flood Watch: Rapid rises on streams and rivers are possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground; listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
- Flash Flood Warning: Rapid rises on streams and rivers are occurring; seek higher ground on foot immediately.
As Gulf Coast residents prepare for the landfall of Hurricane Isaac, our partners at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service urges everyone to make food safety a part of their preparation efforts:
- Store food on shelves that will be safely out of the way of contaminated water in case of flooding.
- Group food together in the freezer — this helps the food stay cold longer.
- Have coolers on hand to keep refrigerator food cold if the power will be out for more than 4 hours.
Finally, if the high winds and rain from Isaac cause the power to go out, remember these tips:
- Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.
- A refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if you keep the door closed.
- A full freezer will keep its temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if half-full).
Read the USDA blog post for a full list of food safety tips.
(Janet Napolitano, Department of Homeland Security Secretary, visits the National Response Coordination Center at FEMA Headquarters in response to Hurricane Isaac.)
(The FEMA Region IV Regional Response Coordination Center has been activated. The RRCC puts all key emergency personnel needed to initiate response to a disaster in a unified center for federal agencies to deploy assets and work with state emergency managers until a field office can be established. FEMA/Tim Burkitt)
The following is a full timeline of some of the key activities and events for today (see yesterday’s activities):
- President Obama signed an emergency declaration for the State of Mississippi, in advance of Tropical Storm Isaac, making federal support available to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, in designated coastal counties, for an incident period beginning August 26 and continuing.
- The President was briefed by DHS Secretary Napolitano, FEMA Administrator Fugate and National Hurricane Center Director Dr. Knabb on preparations for the storm, and the expected track.
- FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate held a video-teleconference call to discuss the latest developments with the National Weather Service, partner agencies and regional representatives to assess their needs and readiness. The conference had the participation of emergency management leadership from potentially affected states including Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana.
- This afternoon, the President's emergency declaration for the state of Louisiana, in advance of Isaac's landfall, was amended to add the parishes of Acadia, Allen, Avoyelles, Cameron, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Franklin, Iberia, Iberville, Jefferson Davis, Morehouse, Natchitoches, Ouachita, Pointe Coupee, Rapides, St. Helena, St. Martin, St. Mary, and West Baton Rouge.
- FEMA, in coordination with U.S. Northern Command, established Incident Support Bases at Camp Beauregard in Pineville Louisiana and in Shelby, Mississippi and in Meridian, Mississippi to proactively stage commodities closer to areas potentially affected by severe weather, allowing the federal government to quickly move supplies throughout nearby affected states, should they be needed and requested.
- A FEMA Disability Integration Specialist is on the ground in Baton Rouge, LA to continue to reach out to disability groups in the area to support information sharing and ensure our response efforts fully includes individuals with access and functional needs.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has deployed a small command-and-control team and two Disaster Medical Assistance Teams in support of potential post storm health care needs, as well as personnel to support the activation of the FEMA ambulance contract to evacuate patients in Louisiana if needed.
- The Corporation for National and Community Service has deployed more than 100 AmeriCorps members to Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida, with additional deployments expected in the coming days. Serving through the American Red Cross and other organizations, AmeriCorps members are supporting sheltering operations in Hattiesburg, Miss.; Pensacola, Fla.; and Baton Rouge, Madisonville, and Tangipahoa parishes in Louisiana. In New Orleans, AmeriCorps members are assisting the city in providing evacuation and preparedness information to the public. In Jackson MS, AmeriCorps members are assisting the United Way in providing preparedness information to the public. In Hancock County, Miss., volunteers worked to assist disabled seniors secure their homes and properties in preparation of the storm's landfall.
- Amtrak reported that service to and from New Orleans is suspended until Wednesday, August 29, due to the forecasted hurricane landfall of Tropical Storm Isaac. No alternate transportation is available to and from New Orleans and the three cities where Amtrak service will temporarily originate and terminate.
- The American Red Cross has opened many shelters along the Gulf Coast states. To find an open shelter, please visit https://www.redcross.org/find-help/shelter.
- The Department of Energy has deployed staff to the FEMA National Response Coordination Center (NRCC) in Washington, DC, the FEMA IV Regional Response Coordination Center (RRCC) in Atlanta, GA,the FEMA VI RRCC in Denton, TX, and the Florida Emergency Operations Center (EOC).