WASHINGTON -- FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor joined CBS and The Weather Channel this morning to inform the public about the powerful, but slow-moving Hurricane Sally as it approaches the Gulf Coast, wildfires on the West Coast and our ongoing efforts to support local and state officials as we work together to keep their communities safe.
Administrator Gaynor spoke with Gayle King on CBS This Morning about FEMA’s footprint in the potential affected hurricane areas, following President Trump's approval of emergency declarations for Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. He also discussed the ongoing COVID-19 response and adaptions FEMA has made this hurricane season due to the pandemic.
“We gave plenty of documents, considerations to locals to have adaptive plans for the COVID environment, and the states and locals are doing it. There are challenges with that but I’m pretty pleased from what I’ve seen across the country,” said Gaynor. “Whether it's wildfires or it's hurricanes, states and locals have adapted to the new COVID environment when it comes to these national hazards.”
On The Weather Channel, the Administrator spoke about the support to states and communities devastated by the wildfires in the West. There are over 100 large fires throughout the Western U.S. that have burned over 5 million acres in FEMA Regions 8, 9 and 10.
“The amount of devastation that those fires have impacted California and obviously Oregon and Washington state wildfires ... We talked about being proactive on mitigation … but we really just want to show support to the states to make sure they have everything they need to battle those wildfires out.”
FEMA is encouraging people in at-risk areas for Hurricane Sally impacts to download the FEMA app to receive emergency and access preparedness tools to keep families safe. We will continue to work with our state, tribal and local partners as they plan for potential impacts and sheltering operations in this COVID-19 environment.
For additional preparedness information on all types of disasters, visit Ready.gov.
Hurricane Sally, Western Wildfires Federal Response Update
Hurricane Sally will continue to impact areas along the Gulf Coast, including areas well inland. Wildfires on the West Coast continue to pose serious risks to lives and properties.
- FEMA is leaning forward with our federal, state, local, tribal and territorial partners to mobilize teams and supplies in to support a state managed, locally executed response to impacts from storms along the Gulf Coast and the wildfires out West.
- An extremely dangerous and life-threating storm surge is expected for areas outside the southeastern Louisiana Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System -- from the Mississippi River to the Okaloosa/Walton County Line in the Florida Panhandle. Anyone in the forecasted path of the storm should monitor their local news for updates and directions provided by their local officials and heed local evacuation orders.
- Life-threatening flash flooding is also likely, as is widespread minor to isolated river flooding. Major flooding impacts are expected near and to the east of where Sally will make landfall as a hurricane.
- Emergency responders on the West Coast are focused on life saving and life safety measures in the areas impacted by wildfires. Public safety is the No. 1 priority: residents in at risk areas should follow local officials’ instructions and be ready to take action.
- FEMA adapted its plans to the realities of responding during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure we can serve Americans while protecting their safety and that of FEMA employees.
Gulf Residents Should Stay Alert for Continuing Hazards and Heed Local Officials’ Instructions
- Hurricane Sally is moving slowly in a northwestward motion and is forecast to move near the coast of southeastern Louisiana later today and make landfall in the hurricane warning area Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. The storm is forecast to bring a severe threat of inland flooding in several states. Anyone in the forecasted path of the storm should monitor their local news for updates and directions provided by their local officials and heed local evacuation orders.
- State and local officials will have the most up-to-date information on evacuation orders and shelter locations.
- Residents in Louisiana should call 2-1-1 for evacuation, sheltering and resources for immediate needs. For updates, they should text Sally to 67283.
- The American Red Cross (ARC) is prepared to shelter and support families. For assistance, call 3-1-1 or visit the ARC website.
- If you have been evacuated, do not return until local officials tell you it is safe to do so. If you have been ordered to shelter in place, please do so until advised it is safe.
- Don’t drive or walk through flood waters. Be aware of downed power lines, standing water and other hidden hazards.
- Stay off roads so that emergency workers are able to get through.
- Response is a whole community effort; if it’s safe to do so, check on your neighbors. You may be the help they need right now.
- Property owners with a flood insurance policy through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) can take protective action to minimize flood damage and losses to their buildings and personal property before a flood occurs under the “flood loss avoidance” provision.
- These actions may include sandbags (including the sand to fill them), backfill to create temporary levees, water pumps, plastic sheeting and lumber used in connection with any of these items and the cost of labor.
- To be eligible for this benefit, the insured property must be located in a community where either a general condition of flooding in the area exists or an official has issued an evacuation order or other civil order for the community requiring measures to preserve life and property from flooding.
- Flood insurance provided under NFIP flood policies will cover up to $1,000 in reasonable expenses incurred to protect insured property and up to $1,000 to move insured property away from a flood or imminent danger of a flood.
Federal Support is Mobilized for Response to Hurricane Sally
- President Trump approved emergency declarations for Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi on Monday. These declarations authorize FEMA to provide assistance, including direct federal assistance for emergency protective measures for 30 parishes in Louisiana, 24 counties in Mississippi and 41 counties and one Indian tribe in Alabama. Public Assistance limited to direct federal funding for emergency protective measures will be provided to an additional 34 parishes in Louisiana and 16 counties in Alabama.
- A storm surge warning is in effect from the Mouth of the Mississippi in Louisiana, to the Okaloosa/Walton County Line in the Florida Panhandle. Hurricane conditions are expected today in areas within the Hurricane Warning area. Tropical storm conditions are already occurring in some of these areas
- Sally could continue to produce flash flooding from the western Florida Panhandle to far southeastern Mississippi. Widespread significant flash flooding is likely across Mississippi, Alabama, northern Georgia and the western Carolinas through the middle of the week.
- Follow mandatory evacuation orders from local officials.
Teams supporting recovery efforts from Hurricane Laura are being augmented by additional personnel and teams to provide immediate support following landfall if requested.
FEMA Incident Management Assistance Teams are deployed to Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi to support response activities and ensure there are no unmet needs. FEMA previously moved generators from Alabama and Georgia to support ongoing recovery efforts for Hurricane Laura. Additional commodities remain throughout the southeast to help support response efforts if for Sally if needed. Additional personnel from the federal government, including the Department of Defense, Department of Transportation, Health and Human Services, Department of Energy, DHS Cybersecurity Infrastructure and Security Agency and Army Corps of Engineers have been mission assigned to provide support to impacted states and tribes, as needed.
- FEMA is continuing to support Southwest Louisiana as we work with state and local partners to ensure readiness to respond to the impacts of Hurricane Sally in Southeast Louisiana.
- FEMA has awarded nearly $100 million in assistance to Louisiana for Hurricane Laura.
- FEMA has paid $1.3 million for flood insurance claims in Louisiana for Hurricane Laura.
- Despite any impacts Tropical Storm Sally will have in Louisiana, FEMA staff currently helping Hurricane Laura survivors will continue to do so.
Federal Support is Mobilized for Western Wildfires
- There are 87 large fires throughout the Western U.S. that have burned millions of acres in FEMA Regions 8, 9 and 10.
- Region 10 is currently reporting 32 active major fires burning across the state of Oregon
- Region 9 is currently reporting 30 active major fires burning across the state of California.
- FEMA has personnel, commodities such as food, water, cots and teams including Urban Search and Rescue and Mobile Emergency Response Support supporting the impacted areas.
- The President approved a major disaster for California on Aug. 22. Residents and business owners in eight counties who have disaster-caused damage can apply for assistance at https://www.disasterassistance.gov/or via the FEMA app. The declaration also authorizes reimbursement to state, local and tribal agencies, and certain private non-profit organizations in nine counties for debris removal and 11 counties for emergency protective measures. Details are available on the disaster webpage.
- Fifteen Fire Management Assistance Grants (FMAG) have been approved in California, three have been approved in Colorado, 16 have been approved in Oregon and eight have been approved in Washington.
- FMAGs provide federal funding for up to 75% of eligible firefighting costs to assist in fighting fires that threaten to cause major disasters. Eligible costs covered by FMAGs can include expenses for field camps, equipment use, materials, supplies and mobilization, and demobilization activities attributed to fighting the fire.
- The FMAG authorizes additional funding through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program Post Fire for the reduction of risks from wildfires and post-fire flooding. Some eligible wildfire project types include defensible space measures, ignition-resistant construction and hazardous fuels reduction.
- To address COVID-19 sheltering needs, this year FEMA has adjusted the Fire Management Assistance Grants (FMAG) program to include the reimbursement of costs to state and local governments for non-congregant emergency sheltering, such as hotel rooms.
Federal Support for Oregon Wildfire Response
- Yesterday, FEMA received Emergency Declaration requests from Oregon Governor Kate Brown for wildfires in the state. The Governor specifically requesting Individual Assistance for eight counties, emergency protective measures (Category B), including direct federal assistance under the Public Assistance program for 24 counties and Hazard Mitigation statewide. The request is under review.
- The President approved an Emergency Declaration for Oregon on Sept. 10 for the active wildfires impacting the state. The designated areas under the Emergency Declaration are Clackamas, Douglas, Jackson, Jefferson, Klamath, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Tillamook and Washington counties.
- Under the Emergency Declaration, federal funding is available to the state, eligible local and tribal governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency protective measures (Category B), including direct federal assistance, under the Public Assistance program at 75% federal funding.
- This funding is in addition to funds available through Fire Management Assistant Grants (FMAGs).
- FEMA and federal partners are co-located with the Oregon Office of Emergency Management at the Oregon Emergency Coordination Center and the FEMA Regional Response Coordination Center in Bothell, Washington is activated to support the state.
- FEMA has deployed four Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) teams, including an incident support team to support state search and recovery needs.
- US&R Red Incident Support Team deployed and supporting US&R operations at the ECC.
- US&R Washington Task Force 1 (WA-TF1) 80-person team deployed to Lane County.
- US&R Utah Task Force 1 (UT-TF1) 80-person team deployed to Jackson County, along with the US&R K9 Search and Rescue (5 person and 2 dogs) from Nevada Task Force 1 (NVTF1).
- Two Mobile Emergency Response Support (MERS) units are deployed to Oregon, providing communications support for command and control of federal resources in support of the US&R operations statewide.
- FEMA has meals, water, cots and blankets staged in Salem, Oregon, along with hygiene kits, commonly used shelter items. Twenty-seven generators are in transit to a staging area at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington. Both locations are staffed with Staging Management Teams.
Oregon Residents Should Stay Informed, Be Ready, Know Where to Go and What to Bring if You Must Evacuate
- An Oregon Wildfire Resource Website has been created to help Oregonians stay informed at wildfire.oregon.gov.
- Know your evacuation levels! Level 1 - Be Ready. Level 2 - Be Set. Level 3 - Leave Immediately. DO NOT return the fire area until officials give the OK.
- If you are in an evacuation zone, heed warnings, and follow local official recommendations without delay.
- Local evacuation information can be found on the OEM Wildfire dashboard. Information is ever-changing so continue to check back for updated content. Check with your county office of emergency management to sign up for local emergency alerts
- If you are in a safe place, you can help by staying home and off the road.
- The American Red Cross is operating several Temporary Evacuation Points where evacuees can go for information and assistance. Locations change with the need.
- Please register for the Red Cross Safe and Well program at safeandwell.communityos.org.
- For Oregonians and others asking how to help, you can donate to response organizations. Visit ORVOAD.org.
- Amid wildfire, smoke and erratic weather, the COVID-19 pandemic is still rampant. Face coverings are required in all parts of the state and Oregonians are reminded to maintain social distancing, and wash hands frequently.
FEMA Continues to Support States While Responding During COVID-19
- We will continue to work with our state, tribal and local partners as they plan for execution of evacuation and sheltering operations in a COVID-19 environment. Finding shelter is critical in times of disaster. Shelter outside of the hazard area could include staying with family or friends, seeking a hotel room or staying in a mass shelter.
- FEMA, other federal agencies and the American Red Cross have modified policies and planning and have taken actions to ensure the federal government can respond to any disaster during our continued coronavirus response efforts.
- In alignment with FEMA’s Pandemic Operational Guidance, FEMA is leveraging technology to deliver the agency’s programs at the highest level possible, while preserving our workforce and survivors. These methods include virtual damage assessments and inspections for FEMA Individual Assistance and Public Assistance programs, as well as National Flood Insurance Program claims.
- While some aspects of program delivery may look different this year, our commitment to helping people before, during and after disaster remains our full focus and we are ready to deliver on our mission.
- In advance of hurricane and wildfire season, FEMA expanded the capacity of its National and Regional Response Coordination Centers and trained additional staff to be postured to respond to multiple on-going incidents.