At the direction of President Obama, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano reached out to governors and mayors from regions potentially impacted by Hurricane Irene to discuss coordinated federal, state, and local preparedness efforts including: Delaware Governor Jack Markell, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, North Carolina Governor Beverly Purdue, Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.
Secretary Napolitano and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate later convened a call with state, local, and tribal emergency management officials, homeland security advisors, elected officials and tribal leaders in regions potentially affected by Hurricane Irene as the storm travels up the East Coast--highlighting that while hurricanes can inflict significant damage, federal, state, local and tribal authorities all play critical roles in preparing for, and responding to, storms like this through coordinated resiliency efforts, and the priority is ensuring that all steps are taken to protect potentially impacted communities.
These calls were in addition to the daily coordination between FEMA and state, local, and emergency officials that has been taking place since last weekend.
"DHS and FEMA, along with the entire federal family, are leaning forward to support our state and territorial partners as Hurricane Irene approaches the East Coast," said Secretary Napolitano. "Through its regional offices in Atlanta, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston, FEMA is coordinating with state, tribal and local officials that could be impacted or have already been impacted by this storm, to ensure they have the support they need to respond. Given the unpredictability of these storms, we are currently planning for several scenarios, including potential impacts to major metro areas and critical infrastructure."
"Preparation for Hurricane Irene will continue to require a team effort. FEMA is just part of the team that includes the entire federal family, state, tribal, and local governments, the faith-based and non-profit community, the private sector and most importantly the public," said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. "The public can do their part, by preparing before Hurricane Irene, and if told to evacuate, leave immediately, follow evacuation routes announced by local officials."
The National Hurricane Center has issued a Hurricane Watch for the North Carolina Coast from North of Surf City to the North Carolina-Virginia border. A Hurricane Watch means hurricane conditions are possible in the area within 48 hours.
In advance preparation for the storm, FEMA National Incident Management Assistance Teams (IMATs) are on the ground in North Carolina and Virginia and arriving in South Carolina, today in anticipation of further deployment to potential impact areas along the east coast of the U.S. In addition, Regional IMATs are being deployed to Connecticut, Maryland, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont, to coordinate with state, tribal and local officials to identify needs and shortfalls impacting potential disaster response and recovery efforts.
Additionally, at all times, FEMA maintains commodities, including millions of liters of water, millions of meals and hundreds of thousands of blankets, strategically located at distribution centers throughout the United States and its territories. The Department of Defense is also supporting these efforts, including providing important staging locations for commodities. Fort Bragg, North Carolina has been designated as one of several Incident Support Bases (ISBs)--distribution centers located closer to the impacted areas, allowing FEMA and federal partners to proactively stage commodities closer to areas potentially affected by severe weather--to support states within the regions potentially affected by Hurricane Irene.
FEMA is coordinating across the federal government to ensure territorial and state officials have the support they need as they respond to or prepare for Irene.
FEMA encourages everyone, regardless of whether they live in a hurricane-prone area, to take steps to ensure their families, homes and businesses are prepared for a possible emergency. Visit www.Ready.gov or www.Listo.gov for tips on creating your family emergency plan and putting together an emergency supply kit.
FEMA's support for disaster response activities in Puerto Rico, and its proactive support for East Coast storm preparations, does not diminish its focus on critical federal disaster response and recovery operations that continue, across the nation, including flooding in the Midwest and the ongoing recovery from the southeastern tornadoes.
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