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FEMA Working Closely with Federal, State and Tribal Partners to Encourage Residents to Prepare, and Evacuate if Directed

Release Date: October 6, 2016

For Immediate Release
DHS Press Office
Contact: 202-282-8010

WASHINGTON – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is working closely with its federal partners at the Regional Response Coordination Centers in Atlanta and Philadelphia, as well as the National Response Coordination Center at FEMA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., to help coordinate any requests for assistance from states potentially affected by Hurricane Matthew.

FEMA is staffing Incident Support Bases in Albany, Georgia and Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to pre-position resources closer to potentially affected areas, should affected states request them.  Today there are more than 444,000 liters of water and more than 513,000 meals, as well as thousands of cots and blankets on site. Additionally, FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center has been activated to support response and recovery efforts on the ground.

According to the National Weather Service, hurricane conditions (winds 74 MPH or greater) are expected to first reach the east coast of Florida from Golden Beach to Fernandina Beach by Thursday evening, and will spread northward along the Florida coast overnight into Friday. Hurricane force winds are expected to develop this evening along the east coast of Florida and will continue to spread northward into Friday.

“This is a serious storm that is not to be underestimated,” said FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate. “There is very real potential for deadly storm surge, high winds and extended power outages. Listen to your state, local and tribal officials, and heed their directions.  If you have been asked to evacuate, do it now. Do not wait for the next forecast.”

The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline.  Heavy rain is expected in Florida beginning today, and then may move north into coastal Georgia and South Carolina, possibly North Carolina, Friday into the weekend.  Evacuations for coastal counties in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina are in effect, and FEMA encourages residents to heed the directions of your state, tribal, and local officials in your area. If instructed to evacuate, don’t wait, evacuate.

FEMA Incident Management Assistance Teams (IMAT) are deployed to emergency operations centers (EOC) in Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. These teams are in place to support preparation activities and ensure there are no unmet needs from the states. A FEMA liaison is co-located at the Georgia Emergency Management Agency to assist the state’s response to Hurricane Matthew. Additional teams and staff from around the country are ready to deploy to affected states and tribes as necessary.

Shelters are beginning to open across the potentially impacted states. Download the FEMA mobile app for shelter information, disaster resources, weather alerts, and safety tips, in English and in Spanish. The app provides a customizable checklist of emergency supplies, maps of open shelters and recovery centers, disaster survival tips, and weather alerts from the National Weather Service. The app also enables users to receive push notifications reminding them to take important steps to prepare their homes and families for disasters.

Safety and Preparedness Tips

Hurricane Matthew has potential for life-threatening rain, wind and storm surge. Those in potentially affected areas should be familiar with evacuation routes, have a communications plan, keep a battery-powered radio handy, charge devices, and have a plan for their pets.

Individuals should visit www.ready.gov or www.listo.gov to learn these and other preparedness tips for tropical storms or hurricanes. If the storm is expected to affect your area, know your evacuation zone and follow the direction of local or tribal officials if an evacuation is ordered for your area.

You should choose an out of town emergency contact for your family. The person should live in a place that is unlikely to be directly affected by the same event. Let this person know that you have chosen them to provide updates.

There is the potential for flooding with this storm. Driving through a flooded area can be extremely hazardous and almost half of all flash flood deaths happen in vehicles. When in your car, look out for flooding in low lying areas, at bridges and at highway dips. As little as six inches of water may cause you to lose control of your vehicle. If you encounter flood waters, remember – turn around, don’t drown.

Get to know the terms that are used to identify severe weather and discuss with your family what to do if a watch or warning is issued:

For a hurricane:

  • A Hurricane Watch is issued when a tropical cyclone containing winds of at least 74 MPH poses a possible threat, generally within 48 hours.   
  • A Hurricane Warning is issued when sustained winds of 74 MPH or higher associated with a tropical cyclone are expected in 36 hours or less. A hurricane warning can remain in effect when dangerously high water or a combination of dangerously high water and exceptionally high waves continue, even though winds may be less than hurricane force.

For a tropical storm:

  • A Tropical Storm Watch is issued when tropical cyclone containing winds of at least 39 MPH or higher poses a possible threat, generally within 48 hours.  
  • A Tropical Storm Warning is issued when sustained winds of 39 MPH or higher associated with a tropical cyclone are expected in 36 hours or less.

For flooding:

  • A Flood Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for flooding.  
  • A Flood Warning is issued when flooding is imminent or occurring.

To learn more about what to do before, during and after severe weather, visit www.Ready.gov.

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Last Updated: 09/21/2018
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