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FEMA Urges Florida Evacuees to Remain Vigilant: Follow Local Officials’ Instructions before Returning

Release Date: 
September 10, 2017

For Immediate Release
FEMA News Desk
Phone: 202-646-3272

WASHINGTON – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) continues to urge residents and visitors in areas forecasted to be affected by severe weather to follow local officials’ updates and instructions for evacuation or shelter-in-place procedures.

According to the National Weather Service (NWS), Hurricane Irma is a dynamic, active, and dangerous hurricane that will produce storm surge up to 15 feet in southwest Florida, very heavy rain, inland flooding and tornadoes. The eye of Irma is moving over the Lower Florida Keys this morning, then move near or over the southwestern coast of the Florida Peninsula later today through tonight.  Hurricane and storm surge watches and warnings are in effect along Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina coasts. The primary concern over the next few days continues to be the effects of destructive winds, storm surge, isolated tornadoes, and prolonged heavy rain, which has the potential to produce flash flooding in much of central and south Florida.

Those who have evacuated should continue to monitor local radio or TV stations for updated emergency information. Evacuees should not return to evacuated areas until they are told by local officials that it is safe to do so. Preemptively returning can pose significant safety risks to both evacuees and first responders.

Download the FEMA mobile app (in English and Spanish) for shelter information, disaster resources, weather alerts, and safety tips. Residents in or displaced from areas affected by this storm should use social media sites like Facebook or Twitter to reconnect with loved ones.

To date, FEMA has pre-positioned the following commodities at Incident Support Bases in Alabama, North Carolina, and New Jersey:

  • Alabama: More than 2 million meals, 19,000 tarps, nearly 8 million liters of water, nearly 53,000 blankets, nearly 20,000 cots.
  • North Carolina: More than 126,000 meals and over 940,000 liters of water
  • New Jersey: More than 360,000 liters of water

As of this morning, FEMA transferred 2.4 million meals and 1.4 million liters of water to the state of Florida, at their request.

FEMA Incident Management Assistance Teams (IMAT) are deployed to the emergency operations centers (EOC) in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina to support ongoing preparation and response efforts and to ensure there are no unmet needs from the states and tribes. Additional teams and staff from around the country continue deploying to the field.

For more information about Hurricane Irma, including resources deployed and updated information, go to: www.fema.gov/hurricane-irma.

Safety

The following are important safety points if you’re in an area that will be, has been or is still being impacted by the storm:

  • Listen to local officials for updates and instructions. If the storm is still impacting your area and local officials give the order to evacuate, do so immediately. If you evacuated and are planning to return home, return to the area only when local officials indicate it is safe to return.
  • Avoid debris, downed power lines, and flood water, which may be electrically charged and hide dangerous debris or places where the ground is washed away. Avoid downed power or utility lines as they may be live with deadly voltage. Stay away and report them immediately to your power or utility company.
  • Emergency workers may be assisting people in flooded areas or cleaning up debris. You can help them by staying off the roads and out of the way as much as possible.
  • If your home has flood water inside or around it, don’t walk or wade in it.  The water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline, or raw sewage.
  • If you have a flooded basement in your home, never attempt to turn off power or operate circuit breakers while standing in water.
  • If your power is out, safely use a generator or battery-operated flashlights.
    • Never use a generator inside a home, basement, shed or garage even if doors and windows are open.
    • Keep generators outside and far away from windows, doors and vents. Read both the label on your generator and the owner's manual and follow the instructions. 
  • Avoid plugging emergency generators into electric outlets or hooking them directly to your home's electrical system – they can feed electricity back into the power lines, putting you and line workers in danger.
  • To learn more about what to do before, during and after severe weather, visit www.Ready.gov and www.Listo.gov.

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.

Follow FEMA online at www.fema.gov/blog, www.twitter.com/fema, www.twitter.com/femaspox, www.facebook.com/fema and www.youtube.com/fema.  Also, follow Administrator Brock Long’s activities at www.twitter.com/fema_brock.

The social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.

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Last Published Date: August 14, 2018
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