FEMA and Partners Prepare for Catastrophic Impacts from Tropical Systems

Washington, DC - - (Thursday, September 13, 2018) - - Hurricane Florence may have weakened, but still poses a serious threat to the eastern United States. Now is the time to take shelter and stay safe. Everyone should be making final preparations this morning as Hurricane Florence moves closer to land. Coastal residents in North Carolina and South Carolina may already be seeing tropical storm or hurricane force winds.

“The time to get out of evacuation areas, is rapidly coming to a close” said FEMA Administrator Brock Long. “This is a very dangerous storm. There’s going to be copious amounts of rainfall throughout the Carolinas and other states and we are going to see a lot of inland flooding.”

It is crucial that residents and visitors in the areas that will be affected by Florence listen to and follow the instructions of local, state and tribal officials.

Residents in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia should:
  • Communicate with friends and family. Tell them where you are riding out the storm, and how you will let them know you’re safe. You can call, text, email, or use social media.
  • Stay informed. Turn on your TV/radio, or check your city/county website for weather updates and emergency instructions.
  • Keep away from windows. Close storm shutters; flying glass from broken windows could injure you.
  • Prepare for power outages. Turn your refrigerator or freezer to the coldest setting, and open only when necessary. If you lose power, food will last longer. Keep a thermometer in the refrigerator to check food temperature when the power is restored.

Federal Activities as of 5 a.m. Eastern

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
  • FEMA continues to work with federal, state, local, tribal and territorial partners to prepare for the potential impacts from storms in the Atlantic, Caribbean and Pacific.
  • Incident Management Assistance Teams are at state emergency operations centers in the Carolinas, Virginia and Washington D.C. to support readiness and response activities and ensure there are no unmet needs.
· FEMA Urban Search and Rescue teams and U.S. Coast Guard resources are positioned in the Carolinas and Virginia to quickly mobilize to support search and rescue efforts as requested by potentially affected states.
· FEMA Urban Search and Rescue units are also positioned in Honolulu and Kona, Hawaii.
· FEMA has one Mobile Emergency Response Support (MERS) unit in North Carolina and two MERS units in South Carolina with secure and non-secure voice, video and information services to support states’ emergency response communications needs.
· MERS units are also positioned in Hawaii in response to Tropical Storm Olivia, and Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands in response to Typhoon Mangkhut.
· Additional mobile communications resources are pre-positioned in Alabama and Tennessee to support potentially affected areas as needed and requested.
  • An Evacuation Liaison Team – a joint team made up of Department of Transportation, FEMA, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – has activated to help coordinate multistate evacuation efforts.
  • The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has reached out to regional insurance specialists and Insurance Commissioners in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland to see if they have any unmet needs. The program has also shared critical information for insurance agents to use before, during, and after the storm with insurance industry associations in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia to forward to their members.
  • The NFIP is also reaching out to private flood insurance companies, Write-Your-Own partners, and the NFIP Direct to provide situational awareness, and prepare for claims activity to come.

FEMA Logistics and Commodities Movements
  • The private sector is the first source for goods in the potentially affected areas. When their supply chain is disrupted, or stores are unable to open, then state, local and voluntary agencies will provide needed supplies. FEMA, working in coordination with the state, will augment state and local resources as needed and requested.
  • 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.
  • FEMA is forward staging meals, water, cots, blankets and other resources at 27 Incident Support Bases, distribution centers, and pre-positioning sites in the Carolinas, Georgia, Virginia, West Virginia, the Caribbean, Hawaii, Guam, and the Northern Marianas Islands to support the needs of the state as they exhaust their supplies until stores can reopen. The quantity of supplies on hand will fluctuate as supplies are continuously moving.
U.S. Department of Defense
  • U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) is leaning forward and actively posturing U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) forces in preparation for Hurricane Florence. While homeland defense is NORAD’s and USNORTHCOM’s number one priority, USNORTHCOM also plays an important role in disaster response by providing unique military capabilities to FEMA in support of state requests. USNORTHCOM also serves as the overall synchronizer of all Department of Defense support to FEMA.
  • The DoD’s Defense Logistics Agency has mobile distribution centers established in the region and is prepared to provide and distribute more than 281,000 gallons of fuel for federal response. They have also pre-staged 60 generators and transformers to support critical infrastructure, and are prepared to provide shelf stable meals and bottled water in coordination with FEMA.
  • U.S. Fleet Forces Command ordered nearly 30 Navy ships in the Hampton Roads area to get underway to reduce the risk of damage to ships and piers during high winds and seas.
  • USNORTHCOM has available amphibious ships USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) and USS Arlington (LPD 24), along with embarked elements of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit and the Expeditionary Strike Group 2 command element. The ships will be positioned to provide Defense Support to Civil Authorities (DSCA) from the sea as needed and requested.
  • In response to potential flooding, DoD is preparing ground transportation/high-water capable vehicles to move personnel and cargo in the affected areas, is preparing to provide rotary wing aircraft, swift water boats and rescue personnel in support of flooding in the affected areas.

National Guard Bureau
  • More than 2,700 Army and Air National Guard members have been activated from multiple states to support hurricane response efforts. Guard units are prepared to take on a variety of support missions, including high water transportation, debris reduction, commodity distribution, shelter management assistance and rotary wing aviation search and rescue operations.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) teams are on the ground in the Carolinas and Virginia to assist states and tribes with temporary emergency power, debris removal, infrastructure assessments, water and wastewater assessment, and temporary roofing.
  • USACE has also deployed three Deployable Tactical Operations Center Vehicles to assist with communication capabilities.
  • USACE has fully-engaged teams actively monitoring and managing USACE-owned dams to make as much water storage available as possible. These teams will continue to monitor and manage these dams throughout the event. These dams reduce the risk of downstream flooding, but do not eliminate it. Risk remains from the potential massive rainfall and flooding downstream from other drainage areas not associated with the dams.
  • USACE is also coordinating with U.S. Army Installation Management Command for impacts to installation dams.

U.S. Department of Energy
  • The Department of Energy (DOE) is continuing to work with its partners to prepare for the impact of Hurricane Florence. Mutual assistance has been engaged, and industry crews from at least fifteen states have pre-deployed to support power restoration efforts. DOE deployed emergency responders to North Carolina and South Carolina and they are ready to report to other states as requested.
  • DOE concurred with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on emergency fuel waiver requests made by the Governors of North Carolina and South Carolina in order to address shortages that could occur as a result of Florence (the overall supply of gasoline for the East Coast is at or above the five-year range).
  • DOE anticipates beginning to issue Situation Reports on the impacts of Florence to the energy infrastructure on Friday, which will be posted to the DOE and CESER homepages.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  • The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) resident inspectors have completed reviews or are reviewing storm preparations at nuclear plants in or near the projected path of Hurricane Florence. Those plants include Brunswick, McGuire, Catawba, and Harris in North Carolina, Surry and North Anna in Virginia, and Summer and Robinson in South Carolina.
  • The NRC dispatched additional inspectors to several of those plants to replace or augment the resident inspectors. There are 12 additional inspectors currently at those sites and the agency is planning to send others to assist with post-storm inspections and coordination. The NRC has also deployed staff to the state emergency operations centers in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.

Environmental Protection Agency
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is coordinating closely with local, state, and federal partners as the Agency continues to prepare for, and respond to the impact of Hurricane Florence.
  • EPA staff are on the ground in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia evaluating Superfund sites and helping staff emergency operations centers.

Federal Communications Commission
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Homeland Security National Protection and Programs Directorate
  • DHS’ National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) has stood up its Crisis Action Team (CAT) in support of Hurricane Florence. The team will maintain 24/7 situational awareness of the nation’s critical infrastructure and serves as a national coordination hub to support the protection and resilience of cyber and physical critical infrastructure assets.
  • The CAT provides NPPD with the flexibility to rapidly expand operational focus and support affected cyber and critical infrastructure partners at the state, local, tribal, and territorial government levels.

U.S. Coast Guard
  • The U.S. Coast Guard is directing mariners to stay off the water – maritime search and rescue capabilities may be degraded or unavailable immediately before, during, and after the hurricane. Individuals are directed to use VHF Channel 16, or call 911 for emergency needs; do not use social media to report emergencies.
  • Captains of the Port and their teams have been in close contact with the maritime sector over several days to manage maritime operations, maximizing the flow of cargo and supplies into states ahead of the storms while safeguarding the ports.
  • USCG is closing ports to inbound and outbound traffic and cargo operations as is necessary based on the storms’ movement. Once the storm passes, they will begin port assessments and will begin reopening and reconstitution of ports once it is safe to do so.
  • USCG works with agency partners, state, and local authorities to prioritize recovery efforts by first evaluating channel surveys then surveying aids to navigation and facilities.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development has been in contact with all housing authorities and multifamily property owners within the projected storm area to ensure residents are safe. Staff are currently canvassing housing authorities outside of the affected areas to check on the availability of housing units.

U.S. Department of the Interior
  • The entire Department of the Interior is actively monitoring Hurricane Florence and its expected impact on the Eastern shore of the United States. We are working closely with our federal, state, and local partners to ensure the proper response to the storm. The National Park Service, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs have started to implement preventative measures in preparation for the Hurricane.

U.S. Geological Survey
  • The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) crews are installing storm-tide sensors at key locations along the North and South Carolina coasts in advance of Hurricane Florence. Under a mission assignment from FEMA, the USGS plans to deploy about 160 sensors and is consulting with federal and state partners about the need for similar equipment for other areas along the mid-Atlantic coast.
  • In addition to storm-tide sensors, 25 rapid deployment gauges are being installed at critical locations that may be impacted by storm surge or floodwaters, but where the USGS does not have permanent stream gages.
  • The USGS is coordinating with the National Weather Service, FEMA, and state and local agencies to put the rapid deployment gauges in places with the greatest need. They will augment a network of 231 stream gages in North Carolina and 112 stream gages in South Carolina that provide critical information to the National Weather Service, FEMA and other USGS partners involved in issuing flood and evacuation warnings and in coordinating emergency responses to communities.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is mobilizing heavy equipment task forces and law enforcement teams to get into the impact zones as quickly as possible. They will start assisting wildlife refuges and communities hit by the hurricane as soon as it is safe.
  • Staffers from the Service and other agencies will make rescue operations for communities their first priority, and will be securing and repairing the infrastructure of the national wildlife refuge system.

U.S. Department of Justice
  • The U.S. Department of Justice is monitoring the situation closely, and is in touch with its components and facilities in the impacted region. Law enforcement components stand ready to answer calls for assistance from state and local entities.

National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
  • Seven underwater “Hurricane Gliders” were deployed by the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s Integrated Ocean Observing System partners in advance of Hurricane Florence. Data from the gliders is available for assimilation into hurricane forecast models.
  • Teams from NOAA are ready if needed to capture high-definition aerial photos from locations affected by the storm. These images help emergency managers assess the extent of damage and determine the appropriate response following landfall.
  • NOAA is monitoring near real-time water levels and meteorological data for Hurricane Florence, and is ready to provide scientific support to assess damage from environmental pollution and marine debris.
  • NOAA’s Navigation Response Teams are ready to deploy hydrographic survey assets, to help re-open our nation’s ports following the storm.

U.S. Small Business Administration
  • The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) prepositioned our post-disaster teams and will coordinate with FEMA to deploy our response efforts.
  • Preparedness and business continuity tips for small businesses, non-profits, homeowners and renters is available by following @SBALinda and @SBAgov, online through SBA’s blog, and via e-newsletters in affected regions.

Social Security Administration
  • The Social Security Administration (SSA) closed several offices across North Carolina and South Carolina. The offices will remain closed at least through the end of this week. Where possible, SSA is making arrangements for field offices not impacted by the hurricane to provide assistance to the offices that are closed.
  • Due to the potential threat, many post offices are closed in North Carolina and South Carolina which could have a negative impact on some individuals receiving paper checks; procedures are in place should SSA need to make emergency benefit payments.

U.S. Department of State
  • The U.S. Department of State Office of Foreign Missions (OFM) continues to distribute preparation messaging to foreign consular missions in affected zones.

U.S. Agency for International Development
  • U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is stockpiling reinforced plastic sheeting in the Caribbean, and training local disaster officials how to use the material to construct safe and secure temporary shelters.
  • USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance is strategically pre-positioning the plastic sheeting in Dominica, as well as in Barbados, where it can be quickly transported to hurricane-affected countries throughout the region.

U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Aviation Administration
  • The Federal Aviation Administration is putting in place contingency plans for response to Hurricanes Florence, including:
    • All facilities have fuel tanks topped off to run auxiliary power generators if needed.
    • The Air Traffic Organization began contingency planning and coordination with potentially affected airlines and other operators in advance of Hurricane Florence.
    • Any Unmanned Aircraft System Special Governmental Interest authorizations will be posted www.FAA.gov.

Federal Highway Administration
  • The Federal Highway Administration has staff in division offices in the Carolinas, Hawaii and Virginia prepared to respond to Hurricanes Florence and Oliva.

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Courtesy: Federal Emergency Management Agency