WASHINGTON, D.C. -- At the direction of President Obama, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) continues to lead the federal government's effort to provide assistance and support to states affected by the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy—ensuring the federal family and its public and private partners continue to provide all available resources to support state, local, territorial and tribal communities in affected areas. President Obama received updates throughout the day from his team on current response and recovery efforts, and spoke directly with state and local officials from across the affected areas.
Today, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano traveled to Connecticut and New York to meet with state and local officials and view ongoing response and recovery efforts of the storm. Yesterday, President Obama, Governor Chris Christie and FEMA Administrator Fugate toured the storm damaged New Jersey coast and met with disaster survivors and first-responders, and were briefed by state and local officials on response efforts.
In support of an aggressive power restoration effort, the President has approved a 100 percent cost share for ten days, starting October 31, for emergency work performed by state, tribal and local governments to restore emergency power and transportation assistance required to perform this emergency work, including direct federal assistance for New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut counties designated for Public Assistance. Other forms of Category B (emergency work) public assistance remain at a 75 percent cost share.
“FEMA’s priority is to accelerate disaster assistance to the storm survivors,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. “Impacted residents and business owners in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey can apply for federal assistance by phone 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), via mobile devices m.fema.gov or online www.DisasterAssistance.gov.”
Federal urban search and rescue teams continue to support state and local efforts for combined searches of more than 3,300 structures in Queens and 870 structures in Staten Island, and rapid reconnaissance of 9,500 structures in Nassau County, New York. As of last night, states, tribes, localities and the Red Cross and other organizations continue to support more than 258 shelters across 16 states supporting over 13,000 residents. 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), or check local media outlets.
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 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 afternoon, more than 596,000 liters of water and more than 199,000 meals in staging at Incident Support Bases in Westover, MA and Lakehurst, NJ, have been transferred to states to supplement their existing inventory. The Incident Support Bases continue to be restocked in anticipation of additional requests for assistance from affected states. In addition to the ISBs, five Federal Staging Areas are operating in New York.
At the direction of the President, a national power restoration working group has been established to cut through the red tape, increase federal, state, tribal, local and private sector coordination and restore power to people as quickly as possible and includes DoD, DOT, DOE, USACE and representatives from local law enforcement. Today, more than 60 power restoration vehicles and crews from private utility companies were airlifted from California to the New York.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers deployed the 249th Engineer Battalion Technical Assistance personnel and other technical experts to support emergency temporary power. The USACE also deployed technical assistance, senior leadership oversight, and are working to identify and deploy additional pumps as priorities are established in coordination with the states.
Earlier this week the President Obama declared major disasters for Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, making disaster assistance available to those in the heaviest hit areas affected by the storm. Individuals and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey can begin applying for assistance by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Disaster assistance applicants, who have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY, should call 1-800-462-7585 directly; for those who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-621-3362. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice. Those in affected areas with access to the internet may register by web enabled mobile device at m.fema.gov, or online at www.disasterassistance.gov. FEMA is asking that those with ability to register online do so to keep phone lines open for those without connectivity. To date, more than 58,000 individuals in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey have registered for assistance, and more than $5.9 million has been approved.
More than 2,300 FEMA personnel are working to support response operations, including search and rescue, situational awareness, communications and logistical support in states affected by the storm. Community relations teams are on the ground in the hardest hit areas of the Mid-Atlantic going door-to-door to inform disaster survivors about available services and resources and to gather situational awareness. Hundreds of housing inspectors are on the ground, meeting with disaster survivors to identify damages to homes, to further expedite assistance to individuals.
On October 30, the President Obama declared major disasters for Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, making disaster assistance available to those in the heaviest hit areas affected by the storm. Individuals and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey can begin applying for assistance by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Disaster assistance applicants, who have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY, should call 1-800-462-7585 directly; for those who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-621-3362. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice. Those in affected areas with access to the internet may register by web enabled mobile device at m.fema.gov, or online at www.disasterassistance.gov. FEMA is asking that those with ability to register online do so to keep phone lines open for those without connectivity.
The President also signed federal emergency declarations for Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia and West Virginia. This allows FEMA to provide resources directly to state, tribal and local government engaged in life-saving and sustaining activities.
Joint federal and state preliminary damage assessments began today in several states. At the request of the respective states, assessments have begun in New Hampshire, North Carolina, Rhode Island and Virginia, and assessments will continue as areas become accessible. These assessments are designed to give the governor of each state a better picture of damages, and to determine if a request for further federal support is needed.
In addition, the following federal activities are also being coordinated:
- General Services Administration (GSA) continues to assess more than 1,500 leased and owned federal facilities that were situated in Hurricane Sandy's path to ensure public safety. GSA has made its purchasing schedule available to local and state governments as well as the American Red Cross so that they can more easily and quickly buy needed emergency supplies equipment. In addition, the agency deployed 682 trucks transporting 48 shipments of essential equipment and supplies to FEMA staging areas.
- The Department of Defense (DoD) continues to coordinate with FEMA, U.S. Northern Command and the National Guard Bureau on providing lifesaving and life sustaining assets to FEMA and governors, as requested, and is available for disaster response to support recovery efforts.
- U.S. Northern Command Regional Defense Coordinating Officers (DCO), and portions of the Defense Coordinating Element (DCE) remain on the ground to validate, plan and coordinate Department of Defense (DoD) support of FEMA's response operations and to facilitate DOD support of life-saving and response operations. Today, in support of power restoration efforts Air Mobility Command heavy airlift aircraft support to move 61 power restoration vehicles, associated equipment, non-medical personnel and cargo from Travis and March Air Force Bases, Cal., to Stewart International Airport in Newburgh, New York.
- The National Guard currently has more than 11,800 National Guard forces on duty supporting the governors of New York, Massachusetts, Virginia, New Jersey, Delaware, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Maryland. These forces are providing assistance to local first responders and FEMA with critical tasks such and assistance at evacuation shelters, route clearance, search and rescue and delivery of essential equipment and supplies.
- The U.S. Coast Guard announced that the Port of New York is open to all tug and barge traffic carrying petroleum products; New York waterway ferries and taxi service are fully operational on the Hudson and East Rivers; Gravesend Bay anchorage south of the Verrazano Bridge as well as the anchorage north of the bridge is open and anchorage north of the bride is scheduled to be open later today; the Hudson River is open to all vessel traffic north of George Washington Bridge; the Kill Van Kull is open to light tugs.
- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has more than 400 people engaged to support the response mission. The USACE priority is to support New York City unwatering mission. Also, the USACE is aggressively supporting Emergency Temporary Power mission in New York and New Jersey and has deployed the 249th engineer battalion and other temporary emergency power assets to provide support to areas impacted by the storm.
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has moved more than 100 officers from the Southeast and Midwest into the New York and New Jersey areas to assist with recovery efforts. These officers are working to ensure air and sea ports in the affected area are fully staffed and ready to receive passengers and cargo as they return to operation. CBP has worked to expedite the arrival of power recovery crews arriving from Canada by establishing a dedicated traffic lane at the land border crossing in Vermont used by the crews.
- The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is making $17 million in quick-release emergency relief funds immediately available to New York, North Carolina and Rhode Island to help begin repairing the damage to roads, bridges, and tunnels. Assessments continue throughout the Northeast to determine the full extent of the damage.
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has deployed more than 650 HHS personnel, including ten Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMATs) from eight states and a team of U.S. Public Health Service officers who are providing care at medical shelters in the New York City area. HHS is setting up five Federal Medical Stations. One DMAT is deployed to provide care to two New Jersey shelters. Approximately 350 ambulances have been deployed with five liaison officers and two pharmacists through the National Ambulance Contract.
- The Department of Energy (DOE) continues to work closely with FEMA, and in support of state, tribal, and local officials as the electric industry engages 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.
- 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 Internal Revenue Service recently announced it is granting taxpayers and tax preparers affected by Hurricane Sandy until Nov. 7 to file returns and accompanying payments normally due on October 31.
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved temporary fuel waivers to assist states impacted by Hurricane Sandy. EPA has exercised its authority under the Clean Air Act to temporarily waive certain federal clean gasoline requirements for gasoline sold and distributed in Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, District of Columbia, New York, Maryland, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. The waiver was granted by EPA in coordination with the Department of Energy (DOE).
- FEMA’s National Business Emergency Operations Center remains activated. More than 330 representatives 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, provide a forum to discuss response efforts and challenges for maintaining business operations and provide an opportunity to collaborate on innovative solutions.
- The Small Business Administration (SBA) announced the disaster declaration covers the counties of Bronx, Kings, Nassau, New York, Queens, Richmond and Suffolk in New York, which are eligible for both Physical and Economic Injury Disaster Loans from the SBA. Small businesses and most private non-profit organizations in the following adjacent counties are eligible to apply only for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans: Westchester in New York and Bergen and Hudson in New Jersey. Also, the disaster declaration covers the counties of Atlantic, Cape May, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean and Union in New Jersey, which are eligible for both Physical and Economic Injury Disaster Loans from the SBA. Small businesses and most private non-profit organizations in the following adjacent counties are eligible to apply only for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans: Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cumberland, Gloucester, Mercer, Morris, Passaic, Somerset in New Jersey; and New York County in New York. In Connecticut, the disaster declaration covers the counties of Fairfield, Middlesex, New Haven, New London and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and Mohegan Tribal Nation located within New London in Connecticut, which are eligible for both Physical and Economic Injury Disaster Loans from the SBA. Small businesses and most private non-profit organizations in the following adjacent counties are eligible to apply only for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans Hartford, Litchfield, Tolland, and Windham in Connecticut; Dutchess, Putnam and Westchester in New York; Kent and Washington in Rhode Island.
- The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is coordinating with FEMA and affected states to identify housing providers who may have available housing units, including public housing agencies and multi-family owners. HUD is also speeding federal disaster assistance to Connecticut, New York and New Jersey to provide support to homeowners and low-income renters forced from their homes in the most heavily impacted areas. The President’s major disaster declarations for Connecticut, New York and New Jersey allow HUD to offer foreclosure relief and other assistance to some families in the designated counties. This week, HUD also announced it will speed federal disaster assistance to the State of New Jersey, State of New York and State of Connecticut and provide support to homeowners and low-income renters forced from their homes due to Hurricane Sandy.
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regional Food and Nutrition Service leadership is working with state commissioners and program administrators in the affected area to meet food needs for emergency shelters and feeding sites and to assist with Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) requests. USDA Rural Utilities Service staff is working with members of the National Rural Electric Cooperatives Association (NRECA) to determine how to efficiently meet requests for assistance. Additionally, 38 water system professionals (Circuit Riders) funded by USDA, are helping rural communities assess water system outages and damages, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service is providing emergency watershed protection funds to 10 affected states. The Food and Nutrition Service has reached out to state partners to offer food assistance. USDA staff is also monitoring facilities to ensure the safety of the food supply, and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is working to protect producers from the spread of insect pests during debris removal. APHIS is also working with partners to provide care to companion animals.
- The U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) bureaus are mobilizing incident management teams to assess natural resource and infrastructure damage at national parks, wildlife refuges, Indian reservations and other DOI facilities in impacted areas. More than 300 personnel are deployed in this effort. The National Park Service is mobilizing 44 boats and crews to support DOI search and rescue efforts. Receiving numerous media requests for damage assessments and need to work with FEMA to coordinate how and when and who will respond. The Forest Service has more than 250 chain saw crew team personnel deployed to storm-affected states to assist with debris removal and road clearance for power personnel. The U.S. Geological Survey continues to collect storm surge and tidal flow gages and assess coastal impacts and erosion.
- The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has procedures in place to expedite recovery efforts, including making sure there is timely delivery of mailed ballots. Voters in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy as well as other customers can obtain updates on postal facility operation changes due to the storm on the Mail Service Updates page on the Postal Service website. The safety of employees, the public and the U.S. Mail remains the top priority, and the USPS will continue to post Mail Service updates for residential customers on their front home page on usps.com, located in the bottom right corner. Access this information directly at //about.usps.com/news/service-alerts/welcome.htm Also, USPS will continue to post updated information for business mailers on the following web site. Access this information at https://ribbs.usps.gov/.
The FEMA smartphone app provides further safety tips and displays open shelter information at www.fema.gov/smartphone-app. 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.