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  6. Federal Family Continues Response and Relief Operations Following 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In an effort to keep DHS.gov current, the archive contains outdated information that may not reflect current policy or programs.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 Continues Response and Relief Operations Following Hurricane Irma

Release Date: September 13, 2017

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

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is actively coordinating the efforts of dozens of federal agencies as recovery and relief efforts following Hurricane Irma continue, in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), Puerto Rico, and Florida.

More than 38,000 federal personnel are working in support of preparedness and response to Irma, including more than 2,600 FEMA staff with additional staff continuing to deploy. Many federal agencies, including the U.S. Departments of State, Defense, Interior, and Homeland Security have deployed thousands of personnel to Florida to provide logistical support for commodities, employ search and rescue assets, as well as conduct damage assessments to develop and advance recovery efforts.

Search and rescue efforts continue in the Caribbean and the U.S. mainland, with 127 lives and 53 pets saved in the past 24 hours by the U.S. Coast Guard. The U.S. Coast Guard is also coordinating with cruise ships and interagency partners to continue evacuating U.S. tourists from St. Thomas. Three FEMA Urban Search & Rescue (US&R) task forces and partner agencies continue US&R operations on St. John and St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, having completed targeted searches of more than 2,000 structures on the islands. The U.S. National Guard supported the evacuation of 1,200 evacuees from the U.S. Virgin Islands, with an estimated 12,000 evacuees from Puerto Rico to the U.S. mainland in the past 48 hours.

As of September 12, 2017, FEMA transferred approximately 3.8 million meals and 3.4 million liters of water to states in the Southeast, at the states’ requests. In addition, nearly 443,000 meals, 270,000 liters of water, 56 rolls of blue tarps, 13 infant/ toddler kits, and one generator were transferred to St. Thomas and St. John. Currently, FEMA has the following commodities positioned at Incident Support Bases (ISBs) and Federal Staging Areas (FSAs) across the impacted areas, to be transferred to states and tribes upon their request:

  • Alabama: more than 7 million meals, more than 10.6 million liters of water
  • Florida: more than 488,000 meals, more than 365,000 liters of water, 112 generators
  • Georgia: more than 200,000 meals, 30 generators
  • North Carolina: more than 300,000 meals, 2 million liters of water, 57 generators
  • South Carolina: more than 550,000 meals, 1 million liters of water

The top priority of the federal government is protecting the lives and safety of those in affected areas. First responders, federal teams and voluntary agencies are working tirelessly to help those in need through search and rescue, staffing emergency shelters, providing meals, and offering comfort. 

For those in designated areas in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, registering online, at www.DisasterAssistance.gov, is the quickest way to register for federal assistance, including FEMA assistance.

Federal Efforts Underway as of September 12, 2017 

  • The American Red Cross (ARC) is operationally focused on safety, shelter, food which includes shelf stable meals, and positioning of personnel and supplies. On short notice, an estimated 108,200 people sought refuge from Hurricane Irma in as many as 530 government and Red Cross evacuation centers across six states, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) deployed 23 AmeriCorps Disaster Response Teams including FEMA Corps, to Florida, Georgia, and Puerto Rico to support the American Red Cross, FEMA, and Save the Children. In coordination with local partner, Volunteer Florida, additional locally-serving AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members have been put on standby as CNCS assesses additional needs. CNCS is directing people to NationalService.gov/Irma to find updates about volunteering and urging people to sign up to volunteer in the state of Florida.
  • U.S. Department of Defense (DOD)
    • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Temporary Roofing Planning and Response Team (PRT) arrived in USVI Monday. The PRT conducted an assessment of high priority critical facilities in St. Thomas. USACE currently have more than 350 personnel engaged and have received 36 FEMA Mission Assignments (MA).
      • In Florida: Temporary Roofing experts will conduct a contractor coordination meeting to discuss project startup, mobilization, and temporary roof installation. Temporary Roofing specialists are coordinating a flyover of South Florida residential areas to identify potential mission areas. USACE mobilized contractors to South Florida and worked with area shelters to identify debris removal requirements.
      • In USVI/Puerto Rico: Roofing SMEs conducted aerial assessments of St. Thomas and St. John. USACE received a MA for commodities management experts to support FEMA as they provide oversight of commodities distribution and tracking processes in the USVI. USACE is deploying four Power Planning and Response Teams to assist with assessments and generator installations in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Florida, and Georgia.
    • The U.S. National Guard Bureau (NGB) is responding to Hurricane Irma with 15,702 soldiers and airmen from all over the country in rescue, evacuation, security and support operations with nearly 5,300 more en route to the affected areas.
      • In Florida, National Guard soldiers and airmen are responding to affected areas with law enforcement personnel, route clearing, search and rescue and relief operations to more than 1,800 people across 257 shelters. Some aviation units have moved in to the southern part of the state to allow recovery and evacuation for those trapped by the storm and assist with assessments.
      • In Saint Martin, the National Guard is continuing evacuation operations totaling 1,588 U.S. citizens evacuated thus far.
    • U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) is working with FEMA to support authorities in Florida, and the U.S. Virgin Islands to provide life-saving and life-sustaining relief to those in affected areas. In the U.S. Virgin Islands, the USS Kearsarge and USS Oak Hill continue to work moving people and supplies to the islands.  The USS Abraham Lincoln arrived near the Florida Keys Tuesday afternoon and its helicopters immediately started assessments and evaluations of airfields for state and local authorities.
    • The U.S. Marine Corps’ (USMC) 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit continues food and water distribution missions, water purification, route clearance, patient movement, and is also assisting in the re-opening of the St. Thomas' airfield.
  • U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) continues to closely monitor the impact of Hurricane Irma and is coordinating with its partners to facilitate communications, provide situational awareness and expedite restoration efforts. DOE’s private sector partners have mobilized more than 50,000 personnel from across the United States and Canada through mutual aid agreements to support millions of residences without power. DOE continues to work closely with its interagency and private sector partners to ensure that fuel remains available the states, Commonwealth, and territory impacted by Hurricanes Irma and Harvey.
  • The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is airlifting technicians and satellite communications to St. Thomas and St. Croix to restore air traffic control systems. The agency deployed a mobile air traffic control tower to St. Thomas and continues to work cross-agency and with airlines to conduct relief flights to affected islands. The FAA also issued over 30 special government interest authorizations to drone operators to conduct damage assessment and infrastructure inspection.
  • The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is monitoring the status of communications networks in the areas affected by Hurricane Irma and 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 https://www.usa.gov/hurricane-irmahttps://gobierno.usa.gov/huracan-irma and https://www.usa.gov/hurricane-harvey and https://gobierno.usa.gov/huracan-harvey respectively.
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) deployed National Disaster Medical System personnel to the Florida Lower Keys to establish a mobile medical unit and begin providing medical care. HHS health professionals also are assisting with patient care in Florida medical shelters, evacuated dialysis patients from St. Thomas, supported an overwhelmed hospital emergency department in St. Thomas, and are triaging evacuees from multiple islands as they reach Puerto Rico.
  • The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sent out information about Carbon Monoxide and generator safety: https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/co-materials.html. CDC also distributed the Health Alert Notice on Carbon Monoxide to the impacted states in both Spanish and English, and have sent guidance on carbon monoxide safety to home improvement stores and other partners in the affected regions.
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
    • The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) continues to update the operational status of their offices impacted by Hurricane Irma - in English and Spanish – via web posting on www.uscis.gov and amplified on social media and www.usa.gov. In addition, the Special Situations page https://uscis.gov/special-situations continues to be available detailing how natural catastrophes may affect petitions, applications, and immigration status.
    • The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) continues to work with federal and state partners on search and rescue response and port reconstitution in the wake of Hurricane Irma. Coast Guard damage assessment teams have finished preliminary inspections of ports and waterways in Puerto Rice, U.S. Virgin Islands, and southern Florida. Additional Coast Guard teams are focused on restoring maritime aids to navigation damaged in the storm to facilitate safe navigation and delivery of critical relief supplies to impacted areas.
    • The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has twelve law enforcement personnel assisting the Disaster Medical Deployment Team in St. Thomas. An additional six personnel have deployed to St. Thomas to assist with reconstitution efforts. An additional two 25-person teams were identified to support in Florida. Three Mobile Communication Vehicles (MCVs) are in the Pensacola area and are available to provide support. All facilities in Florida remain closed until assessments are completed. Facilities in Atlanta, Savanah, and Brunswick, Georgia are closed.
    • The National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) support for restoration and recovery efforts continues, with an emerging focus on power restoration and fuel prioritization to support emergency services and critical infrastructure. NPPD is providing eight law enforcement officers deployed to escort eight convoys of FEMA resupply trucks delivering meals and water. Additional NPPD personnel are being deployed to the Caribbean in support of federal facility security operations and damage assessment.
  • The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) provided an overview of Department of Interior and partner support for the hurricane-battered U.S. Virgin Islands. Additionally, Secretary Ryan Zinke talked about Hurricane [Link no longer valid, https://www.doi.gov/pressreleases/case-you-missed-it-secretary-zinke-talks-hurricane-irma-and-more] Irma on September 12. Interior currently has a total of 209 personnel supporting FEMA missions related to Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irma including 55 U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) personnel continuing real-time field measurements and daily reporting of water heights in Puerto Rico, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida; and 140 staff providing law enforcement support for search and rescue and other FEMA functions. Six law enforcement quick response teams include staff from the Office of Law Enforcement as well as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Park Police, National Park Service, Office of the Inspector General, Bureau of Land Management, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
  • The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) law enforcement components are participating in quick response teams in Florida and Texas, and are assisting and preparing to assist local response and recovery efforts in the wake of both Hurricanes Irma and Harvey. The Department announced antitrust guidance for businesses taking part in relief efforts and those involved in rebuilding communities affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. 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 Bureau of Prisons is providing updates at www.bop.gov.
  • The U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) is continuing to assess the impact of Hurricane Irma on their employees and facilities.
  • The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced the availability of SBA disaster loans to residents and businesses in Florida. They encourage hurricane survivors to register online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov.
  • The U.S. Department of Treasury (DOTreas) activated the Financial and Banking Information Infrastructure Committee (FBIIC) communications protocols and will monitor key financial sector infrastructure in the potential 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 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, and a “Treasury Quick Response Team” of special agents from the office of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, among other offices, deployed to the Irma staging area at Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta, Georgia to provide assistance in affected areas. Treasury closed facilities in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Florida.
  • The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) waived the diesel fuel penalty in Florida due to Hurricane Irma yesterday, in response to shortages of undyed diesel fuel caused by Hurricane Irma, the IRS will not impose a penalty when dyed diesel fuel is sold for use or used on the highway in the state of Florida. The www.irs.gov/hurricaneirma page is now live.
  • The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) continues to restore services where it’s safe to do so. The latest USPS service status is available on the Service Alerts page: http://about.usps.com/news/

U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) continues to issue hurricane preparedness messaging to veterans through national, regional, and local VA websites and social media platforms. The department also deployed two liaisons – one each to Valdosta, Georgia, and to the Florida State EOC in Tallahassee, Fla. – to assist with HHS mission requirements. Several VA outpatient clinics and facilities throughout the state of Florida have reopened to resume services for veterans.


Last Updated: 11/15/2023
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