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  6. Federal Family Responds to Hurricane Irma

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In an effort to keep DHS.gov current, the archive contains outdated information that may not reflect current policy or programs.

Federal Family Responds to Hurricane Irma

Release Date: September 11, 2017

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

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and its federal partners are closely monitoring the situation in the Southeastern United States as Hurricane Irma – a Category 3 storm with sustained winds of 135 miles per hour when it made landfall in Marco Island, Florida just after 3:30 p.m. EDT Sunday -- continues moving over Florida. Hurricane Irma first made landfall in the U.S. mainland at Cudjoe Key in the lower Florida Keys just after 9 a.m. on Sunday according to the National Weather Service.

Shelter in place and evacuation orders are in effect for parts of Florida and Georgia.  All those in potentially affected areas should listen to the directions of state, local, territorial, and tribal officials. If instructed to evacuate or shelter in place, follow that direction.

Once the storm passes, survivors should expect and prepare for significant, ongoing impacts, and disruptions to daily activities. Although response efforts may not be immediate due to weather impacts, first responders, federal teams, and voluntary agencies will work tirelessly to help those in need as soon as it is safe to do so. Teams are already staffing emergency shelters, providing meals, and offering comfort. The top priority of the federal government, as we work together to support authorities in Florida, is protecting the lives and safety of those in affected areas.

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.

Shelters are open across the affected areas. Download the FEMA mobile app (available in English and Spanish) for a customizable checklist of emergency supplies, directions to open shelters, disaster survival tips, and weather alerts from the National Weather Service.

To date, FEMA has staged eight Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) task forces, two Hazardous Equipment Push Packages (HEPP), one Incident Support Team in Florida. There are an additional four US&R task forces and one HEPP pre-positioned in Georgia. FEMA Incident Management Assistance Teams (IMAT) are deployed to the state Emergency Operations Centers (EOC) in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama.
FEMA transferred 2.4 million meals and 1.4 million liters of water at the state’s request. Additional, FEMA has pre-positioned the following commodities should they be needed and requested by potentially impacted states or tribes:

  • Alabama: More than 5 million meals, 100,000 tarps, more than 2 million liters of water, 47,000 blankets, nearly 19,000 cots.
  • North Carolina: More than 700,000 meals and more than 2.1 million liters of water
  • New Jersey: More than 360,000 liters of water

More than 21,800 federal personnel are working in support of preparedness and response to Hurricane Irma, including more than 2,100 FEMA staff. Additional staff continue to deploy.

Additional Federal Efforts Underway as of September 10, 2017 

  • The American Red Cross (ARC) has its operational focus on assuring the safety of residents in the storm’s path and mobilization of personnel and supplies. Saturday night, an estimated 132,000 people sought refuge from Hurricane Irma in more than 510 government and Red Cross evacuation centers across six states in addition to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This includes: in Florida, an estimated 127,000 people in 460 evacuation centers. In Georgia, more than 4,000 people in over 30 evacuation centers. There are also evacuation centers set up in Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico, which housed over 1,100 people Saturday night. ARC has 4,921 staff and volunteers located in Florida, Georgia and the U.S. Virgin Islands, with an additional 1,054 en route.
  • U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC)
    • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is responsible for the forecasts, warnings and communications about the hurricane through the National Weather Service’s (NWS) multiple centers (National Hurricane Center, Weather Prediction Center and others) and with data from Hurricane Hunter aircraft (operated by Office of Marine and Aviation Operations and supported by scientists from Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, as well as from NWS). Additionally, NOAA is poised to partner with the local, state and federal agencies in support of multiple Emergency Support Functions (ESF) during the response efforts through aerial imaging of damaged and flooded areas, navigation support to open ports, pollution response and evaluation, and continued weather forecasting including flood forecasts, among other missions as assigned.
  • The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) has activated more than 160 AmeriCorps members, including two FEMA Corps teams, to provide support to FEMA and the American Red Cross in impacted areas. Additional FEMA Corps teams have been pre-staged at the AmeriCorps campus in Vicksburg, Mississippi and all other AmeriCorps and Senior Corps Disaster Response Teams are on standby. CNCS is coordinating with Volunteer Florida and other local partners to provide thousands of locally-serving AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members any additional disaster training or certifications necessary to be able to support immediate response needs. In addition, CNCS is calling upon its network of alumni, nonprofits, and other volunteer-organizations to answer the call for volunteers.
  • U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) is well postured for response operations in Florida with maritime, air, and ground assets, and continues its response operations throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico (VIPR). DoD will continue with the evacuation of U.S. citizens from St. Martin when weather permits, and will provide humanitarian assistance (water, sanitation, logistics support, movement of disaster relief personnel, humanitarian commodities movement) in response to Department of State (DoS) requests.
    • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) currently has more than 300 personnel engaged. USACE is deploying 3 Power Planning and Response Teams to assist with assessments and generator installations in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Florida. USACE has deployed Temporary Roofing Subject Matter Experts to the Florida Emergency Operations Center. USACE is prepared to send 4 Temporary Roofing Subject Matter Experts to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as soon as conditions permit. USACE has received mission assignments to provide the state of Florida with an Infrastructure Assessment PRT, Temporary Power PRT, Water/ Wastewater PRT, and Unwatering subject matter experts. USACE has received additional mission assignments for Temporary Roofing and a Deployed Tactical Operations System (DTOS) or mobile communications support. USACE has deployed debris subject-matter experts to assist FEMA with debris management strategies.
    • The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) is providing approximately 50,000 gallons of unleaded gasoline and 50,000 gallons of diesel to Warner Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, in support of FEMA. DLA is also sending 2 million meals to Selma, Alabama, 1.5 million meals to Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, and distributing bottled water, tarps, generators, and pharmaceutical supplies throughout the affected region.
    • U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) is currently positioning the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) and the amphibious ships USS Iwo-Jima (LHD 7) and USS New York (LPD 21) to begin search and rescue operations when weather permits. NORTHCOM has committed a significant force to the Hurricane Irma response mission, with approximately 4,500 personnel already postured in the Southeast. NORTHCOM has identified incident support bases at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, Warner Robbins Air Force Base, Georgia, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, A.P. Hill, Virginia, and North Air Force Auxiliary Airfield, South Carolina, to support response and recovery operations.
    • The U.S. National Guard Bureau (NGB) has more than 50,000 members supporting domestic operations, including wildfires in the west; Hurricanes Harvey and Irma support as well as contingency operations world-wide. Units in Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, and Alabama are posturing National Guard members to support affected areas within their states in response to Hurricane Irma. Soldiers and Airmen from the Florida National Guard are already helping at more than 200 shelters statewide, and will continue to assist however needed and requested by the counties.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to coordinate closely with local, state, and federal officials as the Agency responds to the impact of Hurricane Irma. EPA teams are formed and ready to deploy to Florida once the conditions are safe for travel and field work. Agency teams will be deploying out of the Region Four office in Atlanta and their ability to travel to affected areas may be impacted as the storm continues to move north. The Agency continues to have staff in Tallahassee, Palm Beach County, Broward County, and Miami-Dade County to ensure close coordination and direct lines of communication.
  • The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is monitoring the status of communications networks in the areas affected by Hurricane Irma and has created a dedicated webpage for daily communications status reports, information, and resources related to the hurricane, including tips for communicating during an emergency.
  • The General Services Administration (GSA) is using USA.gov and GobiernoUSA.gov to continue to support federal agency messaging efforts on their home pages and are compiling federal agency updates and messaging on their Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey pages found at www.usa.gov/hurricane-irmahttps://gobierno.usa.gov/huracan-irma and www.usa.gov/hurricane-harvey and https://gobierno.usa.gov/huracan-harvey, respectively. GSA continues to use social media to send preparedness and life-safety messaging.
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has moved approximately 550 personnel from the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) and the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (USPHS) into Florida ahead of the storm and placed additional teams and equipment on alert including NDMS, USPHS, Center for Disease Control and Prevention public health field teams, and Federal Medical Stations. Three medical teams are providing care at an overwhelmed hospital emergency department on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, and are helping evacuate dialysis patients. HHS Secretary Tom Price, M.D., signed public health emergencies declarations for Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has made subsequent waivers available. The Disaster Distress Helpline (1-800-985-5990) remains open 24/7 for free help coping with the stress of the storm.
    • The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) deployed a public health media specialist deployed to Florida at the request of HHS to support field teams, and is identifying additional staff to deploy in support of Hurricane Irma response and recovery efforts. The CDC Joint Information Center (JIC) continues to identify public health communicators to deploy in support post Hurricane Irma. CDC’s Global Task Force shared the Pan American Health Organization’s (PAHO) update that there exists a high level of complexity in response coordination efforts across multiple jurisdictions, including French, British, Dutch, American territories and sovereign nations affected. CDC distributed an Emergency Partners newsletter via email to over 44,000 subscribers this morning, providing guidance on both hurricanes Harvey and Irma as it relates to the status for each event.
  • On September 8, 2017, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that Acting Secretary Elaine Duke approved a waiver of the federal Jones Act. This waiver ensures that over the next week all options are available to distribute fuel to states and territories impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
    • The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had 100 Surge Capacity Force (SCF) volunteers recently deploy to the areas in Florida impacted by Hurricane Irma. The operational status of our offices impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma will be updated, as needed, in English and Spanish - via web posting, social media, and www.usa.gov.
    • The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) has units and personnel that are sheltering in place. They are prepared to respond to calls for help as soon as weather conditions allow following the storm's passage.
    • The National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) continued to make necessary preparations for post-Hurricane Irma response as the hurricane made landfall on Florida today, while supporting restoration and recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Deployed personnel in the affected areas of the Caribbean are supporting emergency and response operations in addition to local law enforcement. In coordination with Puerto Rico and USVI officials, NPPD continues to assist emergency response communications teams with expediting approvals to gain access, removing debris, and transporting fuel and supplies to critical communications facilities. NPPD is coordinating damage and impact assessments on all critical infrastructure, including transportation, food, health, power, water, and more, in the areas on the U.S. mainland projected to be hit by Hurricane Irma. They also continue to support the recovery and restoration efforts for Hurricane Harvey, including the vetting and processing of more than 3,670 disaster response volunteers requested by FEMA. NPPD anticipates this number to grow as the need for volunteers to assist with future post-Irma recovery efforts becomes known.
    • The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reports that as of September 10, 2017, all airports in Florida are expected to close by the end of Sunday. In Georgia, the Savannah and Brunswick Airports are closed. In South Carolina, the Hilton Head Airport is closed. The airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico is open; in the U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Croix is only open for emergency flights, and St. Thomas is closed.
  • The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has additional staff arriving this coming week to work in shelters and disaster recovery centers to help with depopulation efforts.
  • The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and its bureaus had 92 personnel on mission assignments related to Hurricane Irma as of 8 a.m. EDT, Sunday. A law enforcement team of 25 was expected to report to Moody Air Force Base on September 10. Many National Park Service units have been closed and hundreds of personnel are gearing up for damage assessment, debris removal, and helping with search and rescue efforts in the region. With at least 70 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service field stations closed, 18 refuges along Florida’s west coast, including Key West, J.N. “Ding” Darling and Crystal River, face particularly massive flooding and destructive winds. The Bureau of Indian Affairs is assisting the Miccosukee and Seminole tribes, who have lost power.
    • The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) staff have continued to provide advance support to FEMA and state partners with real-time field measurements and installing storm-tide sensors along the coasts of Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.
  • The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has law enforcement components that are participating in quick response teams in Florida and Texas as part of the Emergency Support Function (ESF) #13, and are assisting and preparing to assist local response and recovery efforts in the wake of both Hurricanes Irma and Harvey. The Bureau of Prisons is providing updates at www.bop.gov and monitoring Hurricane Irma, staging staff and resources for any needed relief efforts at federal prison facilities in the Caribbean and in Florida. Also, the National Center for Disaster Fraud continues to provide messages to help the public avoid and to report Hurricane relief fraud schemes. The NCDF Disaster Fraud Hotline is (866) 720-5721.
  • The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) activated its Region II Incident Response Center in Atlanta at 6:17 a.m. Saturday and is tracking the storm and continuing 24-hour communications with inspectors at Turkey Point and St. Lucie as well as FPL operations staff. NRC inspectors will remain onsite throughout the storm, and FPL has shut down one unit at Turkey Point, but the other unit there and both units at St. Lucie continue to operate since hurricane-force winds are now not expected at either site. Since the storm may impact other plants in other states, the NRC is monitoring those sites and developing plans to dispatch other inspectors if needed.
  • The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) reports that as of September 10, 2017, all Florida airports are closed with the exception of: Orlando International Airport (All runways NOTAM closed except runway 17R/35L, open with Prior Permission Required (PPR) only). Tampa International Airport (open to Prior Permission Required (PPR) aircraft in support of hurricane operations). Pensacola International Airport (one runway closed for construction). Tallahassee International Airport (suspending commercial ops at 8:30 PM EDT, September 10). Miami International Airport (open for emergency aircraft and military operations). FDOT has requested 150 structural engineers to perform bridge inspections on the over 2,000 structures in Florida. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued its Public Utility Restoration exemptions so power, water, cell towers, and waste disposal responders can start restoration of services.
  • The U.S. Department of Treasury (DOTreas) has activated the Financial and Banking Information Infrastructure Committee (FBIIC) communications protocols and will monitor key financial sector infrastructure in the potential Hurricane Irma impact zone. Treasury will also assist with preparation and priority restoration of financial institution operations, and continue working as necessary to mitigate any impact on the financial system. The IRS has provided personnel and facilities to assist with FEMA’s response efforts and provided tax payers with guidance for storm preparation. In addition, Treasury law enforcement officers have been placed on standby to provide support as needed. Finally, Treasury has closed facilities in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Florida.

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 Updated: 04/14/2021
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