At the direction of President Obama, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is coordinating the federal government’s assistance and preparations to support states affected by Hurricane Sandy.
President Obama is bringing together at his personal direction the full resources of the federal government to help those impacted by the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy. With the election of November 6 notwithstanding, the President is completely focused on the crisis.
At a press briefing President Obama was asked “What about the impact on the election, sir?”
President Obama answered calmly and decisively “I am not worried at this point about the impact on the election. I’m worried about the impact on families, and I’m worried about the impact on our first responders. I’m worried about the impact on our economy and on transportation.”
He added, “The election will take care of itself next week. Right now, our number-one priority is to make sure that we are saving lives, that our search-and-rescue teams are going to be in place, that people are going to get the food, the water, the shelter that they need in case of emergency, and that we respond as quickly as possible to get the economy back on track.”
In light of this statement, today, the President received a briefing on Hurricane Sandy in the White House Situation Room, including an update on the deployment of teams and resources to potentially affected areas by Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano, FEMA Administrator Fugate, Transportation Secretary Lahood, Energy Secretary Chu and National Hurricane Center Director Richard Knabb.
In addition, President Obama has now authorized emergency declarations for Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. The President’s action authorizes FEMA to coordinate all disaster relief efforts to provide assistance for required emergency measures to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety. The President continues to direct Administrator Craig Fugate to ensure that federal partners continue to bring all available resources to bear to support state, tribal, and local responders in potentially affected areas.
Currently, more than 1,500 FEMA personnel are positioned along the East Coast working to support disaster preparedness and response operations, including search and rescue, situational awareness, communications and logistical support.
In addition, 28 teams comprised of 294 FEMA Corps members are pre-staged to support Sandy. Three federal urban search and rescue task forces are positioned in the Mid-Atlantic and ready to deploy as needed and requested. An additional four federal search and rescue task forces in the Mid-west have been placed on alert and are ready for deployment, as requested and needed. 14 Incident Management Assistance Teams and 12 liaison officers are positioned in potentially affected states along the East Coast to support preparedness activities and ensure there are no unmet needs.
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, including Atlanta, Ga. and Frederick, Md., if needed and requested. FEMA distribution centers have an overall inventory of more than 5 million liters of water, 3 million meals, 900,000 blankets and 100,000 cots.
FEMA and the Department of Defense established Incident Support Bases in Westover, Mass. and Lakehurst, New Jersey to pre-position supplies including water, meals, blankets and other resources closer to potentially impacted areas, should they be needed and requested by states. As of this morning, FEMA has moved roughly 200,000 liters of water, 100,000 meals and thousands of blankets and cots to Westover Air Reserve Base; and more than 400,000 liters of water and more than 390,000 meals and thousands of cots to Lakehurst Naval Air Station in Lakehurst, New Jersey, and more commodities are en route, as weather conditions permit.
“The emergency management team, comprised of federal, state, tribal and local governments, the private sector and voluntary and faith-based organizations are all engaged in preparation for the storm,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. “Individuals need to stay safe, check on a neighbor, and should follow the direction of state, tribal and local officials and continue to monitor NOAA weather radio and local news reports for the latest storm conditions.”
The National Guard currently has more than 1,900 personnel on state active duty in states along the projected path of the storm, in preparation for potential missions. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) mobilized Temporary Emergency Power resources to be pre-staged at Incident Support Bases to support critical resources in affected areas. These resources consist of teams with technical expertise to assess critical facility generator requirements and private sector contract support to install and operate generators.
Individuals in the region should monitor NOAA Weather Radio and their local news for updates and directions provided by their local and Tribal officials. State, Tribal and local officials make determinations and announcements about evacuations. We urge the public to listen to the instructions of officials, and if told to evacuate – evacuate.
To find a shelter, people can download the Red Cross Hurricane app, visit the Red Cross web site, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
For people with disabilities, plan for evacuation and sheltering with family or friends if possible and if you require power for any life sustaining resources have a plan and talk with local emergency management to identify where you can get access to generator power or charging stations. If you use consumable medical supplies or you have dietary requirements, make sure you have what you need on hand.
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John is the author of an award-winning book, the 2010 Winner of the USA National Best Book award for African-American studies, published by The Elevator Group Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots: How Barack Obama, Two Bookstore Owners, and 300 Volunteers did it. Also available an eBook on Amazon. John is also a member of the Society of Midland Authors and is a book reviewer of political books for the New York Journal of Books