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Preparing for Hurricane Season

 Greig Powers/FEMA.
Last week I had the opportunity to visit Florida with our new Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator, Craig Fugate, to assess firsthand the preparations underway for the beginning of hurricane season on June 1st.

Preparing for hurricanes – or any disaster, for that matter – is one of our highest priorities at the Department of Homeland Security. Over the past few months, we have worked very closely with our state, local, and tribal partners to ensure we are in a strong position to support their efforts should a major disaster strike that requires federal assistance.

In Florida, Craig and I visited Lake Mary, just outside Orlando, where FEMA operates a response and recovery center and toured a FEMA logistics warehouse in Orlando that plays a critical role in staging and moving supplies and commodities during emergencies.

We also met with state and local leaders in Miami and toured Department of Homeland Security operations at the Port of Miami, where the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection all work together to protect port operations and prevent the entry of illegal drugs, migrants, and counterfeit goods.

Our trip to Florida follows our teleconference last week with governors from across the country to discuss hurricane season. Our message was clear and simple: we are preparing for this year’s hurricane season and we stand ready to support our state, local, and tribal partners should they need assistance. (updated 5/29/09 9:30am)

At FEMA and across the Department, we have worked hard to improve preparedness in three main areas:
  • We are better organized. We have a new National Shelter System that contains information for thousands of emergency shelter resources nationwide. This will allow us to provide temporary sheltering assistance faster and in a more orderly fashion.

  • We are better coordinated. We have coordinated regional evacuation and emergency communication plans with our state, local, tribal, and private sector partners, and have secured more options for temporary housing in the event of a disaster.

  • We are better connected. We frequently host video teleconferences among federal, state and local leaders so that we all can share new information and best practices and work together to improve preparedness and identify any gaps in our planning.
Preparedness is a shared responsibility among the Department, our federal, state and local partners, the private sectors, and individuals across the country. Thank you for doing your part to prepare for the upcoming Hurricane season and everything you do to protect our nation everyday.

Janet Napolitano
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
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