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Coordinated Federal Response to Hurricane Irma Continues in Caribbean

Release date: 
September 10, 2017
Release Number: 
HQ-17-107

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and its federal partners continue actively coordinating the federal response to Hurricane Irma in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) and Puerto Rico, as Hurricane Irma began battering southern Florida today.

President Donald J. Trump issued a major disaster declaration for Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Irma, making federal funding available to affected individuals in the municipalities of Culebra and Vieques.  Federal funding is also available to Commonwealth and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities.

President Trump also adjusted the federal cost-share for the U.S. Virgin Islands, authorizing 90 percent federal cost share for debris removal, including direct federal assistance; and a 100 percent federal cost share for emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance, for 30 days from the start of the incident period, and then a 90 percent federal cost share thereafter.

FEMA Incident Management Assistance Teams (IMAT) are deployed in the U.S. Virgin Islands (two IMATs), and Puerto Rico (two IMATs).

As of September 10, FEMA transferred 2,100 cots to the commonwealth of Puerto Rico at their request. The following commodities have been transferred to the U.S. Virgin Islands at their request:

  • St. Thomas: More than 87,000 meals and 18,000 liters of water;
  • St. Croix: More than 96,000 meals and 48,000 liters of water;
  • St. John: More than 570 meals and 900 liters of water.

In addition, the following commodities are at incident support bases or distribution centers to fulfill future requests by the U.S. Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico:

  • U.S. Virgin Islands: More than 183,000 meals and 67,000 liters of water
  • San Juan, Puerto Rico: More than 103,000 meals and 592,000 liters of water

A FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Incident Support Team-Advance element, Virginia Task Force Two (VA-TF2), Virginia Task Force One (VA-TF1) are on the ground on the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico conducting operations. FEMA has also deployed additional US&R support including Canine Search and Logistics teams.

Six Mobile Emergency Response Support (MERS) personnel are deployed to support communication needs for the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Additional MERS capabilities are arriving. The FEMA National Radio System is operable in St. John and St. Thomas to help provide essential emergency communication.

Additional Federal Efforts Underway as of September 10, 2017 

  • The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) has AmeriCorps members serving in Puerto Rico with FEMA Corps who are providing distribution support to FEMA, getting critical items such as water and MREs to survivors.
  • U.S. Department of Defense (DOD)
    • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is deploying 3 Power Planning and Response Teams to assist with assessments and generator installations in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Florida. USACE is prepared to send 4 Temporary Roofing Subject Matter Experts to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as soon as conditions permit.
    • The U.S. National Guard Bureau (NGB) are supporting evacuation efforts in St. Marten: The 123rd Airlift Wing, Kentucky Air National Guard, evacuated 170 U.S. citizens to Puerto Rico. The unit is facilitating the evacuation of 6,000 U.S. citizens. The U.S. Virgin Island’s National Guard is providing care, sheltering, and presence patrols to relieve suffering & ensure security. Damage assessments are complete; both airfields are open to military and relief aircraft.
    • The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) has delivered 2,000 tarps, 40 pallets of food, water and medical supplies in the U.S. Virgin Islands. DLA is delivering 3,000 cases of meals and 5,000 gallons of bottled water to Haiti.
    • U.S. Navy (USN) and U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) aircraft have conducted medical evacuations of 73 medical patients in the past 24 hours in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), USS Wasp (LHD 1) and USS Oak Hill (LSD 51), along with the Marines of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, are conducting a large offload of relief supplies in the U.S. Virgin Islands while continuing to conduct air operations.
    • U.S. Transportation Command (TRANSCOM) continues its support to St. Martin for evacuation and humanitarian assistance, and the strategic lift of commodities to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has three medical teams that are providing care at an overwhelmed hospital emergency department on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, and are helping evacuate dialysis patients. HHS Secretary Tom Price, M.D., signed public health emergencies declarations for Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has made subsequent waivers available. The Disaster Distress Helpline (1-800-985-5990) remains open 24/7 for free help coping with the stress of the storm.
  • The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) reports the first commercial flight will go to St. Thomas tomorrow. It will come loaded with supplies for crew and passengers for following flights, and will fly passengers out of St. Thomas.
    • The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is deploying a Tech Ops team to St. Thomas, and they plan to be able to resume Air Traffic Control Service at St. Thomas (STT) by Sunday morning, September 10, 2017.

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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.

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Last Updated: 
January 3, 2018 - 11:59