WASHINGTON - At the direction of President Obama, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is coordinating the federal government's assistance and preparations to support states affected by Hurricane Sandy. Today, the President received a briefing on Hurricane Sandy in the White House Situation Room, including an update on the deployment of teams and resources to potentially affected areas by Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano, FEMA Administrator Fugate, Transportation Secretary Lahood, Energy Secretary Chu and National Hurricane Center Director Richard Knabb.
The President has authorized emergency declarations for Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. The President's action authorizes FEMA to coordinate all disaster relief efforts to provide assistance for required emergency measures to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety. The President continues to direct Administrator Fugate to ensure that federal partners continue to bring all available resources to bear to support state, tribal, and local responders in potentially affected areas.
Currently, more than 1,500 FEMA personnel are positioned along the East Coast working to support disaster preparedness and response operations, including search and rescue, situational awareness, communications and logistical support. In addition, 28 teams comprised of 294 FEMA Corps members are pre-staged to support Sandy. Three federal urban search and rescue task forces are positioned in the Mid-Atlantic and ready to deploy as needed and requested. An additional four federal search and rescue task forces in the Mid-west have been placed on alert and are ready for deployment, as requested and needed. 14 Incident Management Assistance Teams and 12 liaison officers are positioned in potentially affected states along the East Coast to support preparedness activities and ensure there are no unmet needs. Mobile Emergency Response Support (MERS) personnel and teams have been deployed to support the states with secure and non-secure voice, video, and information services, operations, and logistics support to state response operations as well as with any potential requests for assistance. FEMA disability integration advisors are also deployed to advise emergency management on alert and warning, evacuation, and sheltering needs.
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. FEMA distribution centers have an overall inventory of more than 5 million liters of water, 3 million meals, 900,000 blankets and 100,000 cots. FEMA and the Department of Defense established Incident Support Bases in Westover, Mass. and Lakehurst, New Jersey to pre-position supplies including water, meals, blankets and other resources closer to potentially impacted areas, should they be needed and requested by states. As of this morning, FEMA has moved roughly 200,000 liters of water, 100,000 meals and thousands of blankets and cots to Westover Air Reserve Base; and more than 400,000 liters of water and more than 390,000 meals and thousands of cots to Lakehurst Naval Air Station in Lakehurst, New Jersey, and more commodities are en route, as weather conditions permit.
“The emergency management team, comprised of federal, state, tribal and local governments, the private sector and voluntary and faith-based organizations are all engaged in preparation for the storm,” said Fugate. “Individuals need to stay safe, check on a neighbor, and should follow the direction of state, tribal and local officials and continue to monitor NOAA weather radio and local news reports for the latest storm conditions.”
The National Guard currently has more than 1,900 personnel on state active duty in states along the projected path of the storm, in preparation for potential missions. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) mobilized Temporary Emergency Power resources to be pre-staged at Incident Support Bases to support critical resources in affected areas. These resources consist of teams with technical expertise to assess critical facility generator requirements and private sector contract support to install and operate generators.
To support potential pre- and post-storm evacuations, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) through Emergency Support Function 8, and FEMA have the capability to activate ambulance contracts to support state requirements to evacuate patients if needed and requested. At the request of the state, more than 139 ambulances are positioned in New York, and an additional 211 ambulances are being deployed to New York. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) personnel also are supporting health and human services needs in communities along the East Coast that may be impacted by Hurricane Sandy. More than 160 personnel are deployed as part of the state and federal efforts. A 50-person Disaster Medical Assistance Team deployed to provide triage and basic care in two general population shelters in New Jersey. These medical providers will help ensure the shelter can meet the needs of residents seeking refuge there. Residents who require greater medical care can be transported to medical shelters or hospitals. An additional Disaster Medical Assistance Team remains pre-staged in the mid-Atlantic, prepared to deploy quickly along the East Coast if needed.
National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (National VOAD) remains in close communication with the East Coast state VOAD’s to coordinate on a regional, multi-state level. Currently 15 states have activated their VOAD networks for readiness actions; the National VOAD is sharing their activities and needs with all VOAD members and partners.
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. Daily Situation Reports that detail the storm’s impacts and the restoration activities being taken by the energy sector are available at www.doe.gov.
In preparation for the storm, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has ensured inspectors are in place at all nuclear power plants that could potentially experience impacts from the storm. Inspectors independently verify that plant operators are making the proper preparations and taking actions to ensure plant safety before, during and after the storm. Nuclear power plant procedures require that the facilities be shut down prior to any projected hurricane-force winds on-site.
FEMA activated its National Business Emergency Operations Center. More than from retail, transportation, food and groceries, building management, and other industries receive daily briefings on key federal response efforts. These briefings assist in federal and private sector planning efforts, and provide a forum to discuss response efforts and challenges that may arise for maintaining business operations and provides the opportunity to collaborate on innovative solutions.
According to the NOAA National Weather Service 2 p.m. advisory, hurricane force winds continue to be expected along portions of the coast between Chincoteague, Va. And Chatham, Mass. Tropical Storm force winds are expected north of Chatham to Merrimack River, Mass., the lower Chesapeake Bay and south of Chincoteague to Duck, North Carolina. Hurricane Sandy is expected to produce significant precipitation over widespread areas causing inland flooding, coastal storm surge, snow, and possible power outages.
Severe Weather, Preparedness and Winter Safety Actions
Individuals in the region should continue to monitor NOAA Weather Radio and their local news for updates and directions provided by their local and Tribal officials. State, Tribal and local officials make determinations and announcements about evacuations. We urge the public to listen to the instructions of officials, and if told to evacuate - evacuate.
States, localities and the Red Cross have been opening up emergency shelters along the East Coast as local officials have announced evacuations along the coast and low-lying areas. The FEMA smartphone app provides safety tips and displays open shelter information at www.fema.gov/smartphone-app. To find a shelter, people can download the Red Cross Hurricane app, visit the Red Cross web site, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
Take Action. Those in the forecasted areas that will be affected in the next 24 hours should complete preparations immediately. Those in areas that will experience impacts on Wednesday and Thursday should be preparing their family, home or business to lessen the impact of severe weather, making sure to have an emergency plan, and emergency kits in their homes, workplace 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.
For people with disabilities, plan for evacuation and sheltering with family or friends if possible and if you require power for any life sustaining resources have a plan and talk with local emergency management to identify where you can get access to generator power or charging stations. If you use consumable medical supplies or you have dietary requirements, make sure you have what you need on hand.
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.
More information about what to do before, during and after a disaster can also be found visiting www.ready.gov and www.listo.gov. The FEMA mobile site (//m.fema.gov), smartphone app (www.fema.gov/smartphone-app), and text messages (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 www.fema.gov/blog, www.twitter.com/fema, www.facebook.com/fema, and www.youtube.com/fema.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.