Federal support for states facing Gustav: Get serious, get moving, get ready says FEMA

The Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is working with numerous federal agencies and voluntary organizations to support state and local authorities in their early response to Hurricane Gustav.  President Bush has issued pre-landfall Emergency Disaster Declarations for Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi which enables federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts

The initial focus is on helping to coordinate evacuations and preparing for the response in the immediate aftermath of the storm.  To date, shelters have opened in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas.  The 69 open shelters have the capacity to house 30,836 evacuees, though currently there are only 2,343 occupants.

In an example of interagency coordination: the U.S. Postal Service and the U.S. Department of the Treasury delivered Railroad Retirement, Office of Personnel Management, Veteran's Administration, Social Security Administration (SSA) checks on Friday and Saturday across the Gulf Coast region.  SSA will issue an on-the-spot replacement check at relocation centers for individuals who may have evacuated prior to the weekend.

While the primary focus is on the preparations and response to Hurricane Gustav, FEMA also has an interagency planning team working with states on the Atlantic coast to prepare for Tropical Storm Hanna, which could impact Southeastern or Gulf Coast states later in the week.  FEMA encourages all residents in the region not in the areas immediately being evacuated to make final personal preparations to be able to meet their basic needs for 72-hours after landfall.  Information is available at www.Ready.gov on how families and individuals can best prepare before the storm.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

  • FEMA has the lead in coordinating the plans and preparatory activities numerous federal agencies are taking. FEMA's National Response Coordination Center and Regional Response Coordination Centers in Atlanta, Ga., and Denton, Texas, are operating around the clock, coordinating the prepositioning of assets and responding to state requests for assistance.

DHS/FEMA continued

  • FEMA's emergency teams and resources are being deployed and configured for coordinated response. FEMA has pre-staged life-saving and life-sustaining commodities such water, meals, and tarps in various strategic locations to be made available to residents of affected areas (see attached slide with the most current data), including millions of meals and bottles of water, nearly 500 emergency generators, and hundreds of thousands of tarps, blankets and cots.

U.S. Coast Guard (USCG)

  • USCG units within the projected landfall are taking actions to ensure personnel are ready to evacuate in time to avoid the storm, while simultaneously relocating personnel to continuity of operations locations to maintain situational awareness, command and control, and to ensure a seamless transition from preparedness to response operations.
  • The maritime community and boating public are strongly urged to track Gustav's progress and take early action to protect themselves and their vessels. Extremely high seas, heavy rains and damaging winds that accompany tropical storms and hurricanes present serious dangers to mariners.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

  • ICE's top priorities in any emergency are life-saving and life-sustaining activities, preventing the loss of property to the extent possible, and assisting with a speedy recovery of the affected region
  • There are no immigration enforcement operations, and there are no immigration enforcement checkpoints associated with the evacuations.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

  • CBP is providing 20 law enforcement personnel to conduct and help protect Search & Rescue efforts as well as to help with evacuation and contra-flow traffic issues.
  • CBP will provide aircraft reconnaissance and imagery to improve situational awareness.

Department of Defense (DOD)

U.S. National Guard Bureau (NGB)

  • Approximately 7,000 National Guard members have been called up and are working with civil authorities in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama to assist displaced citizens and to prepare for hurricane landfall.
  • Nearly 400,000 National Guard Citizen-Soldiers and -Airmen, including nearly 110,000 in the Gulf Coast region, are trained and equipped to help save lives and ease suffering.
  • The Texas National Guard is sending 10 rotary wing and six C-130 aircraft to Louisiana to extract nearly 1,000 special-needs people from the New Orleans area.

U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM)

  • NORTHCOM, working with U.S. Transportation Command, has provided contracted airlift and begun to move up to 16,000 general population passengers and cargo. The airlift is moving passengers from New Orleans to Nashville, Tenn.; San Antonio, Texas; Louisville, Ky.; and Ft. Smith, Ark.
  • Department of Defense aeromedical evacuation capabilities have begun for evacuations for up to 1,000 patients for Louisiana and up to 500 patients for Texas.
  • Department of Defense medium and heavy lift rotary wing aircraft are conducting movement of personnel and supplies in support of disaster operations.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)

  • USACE has alerted and begun deploying to the Gulf Coast both local and regional teams from across the nation to assist in debris removal, commodities procurement and delivery, temporary emergency power, temporary housing, temporary roofing, infrastructure assessment, and support to urban search and rescue missions.

U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)

  • DOT deployed team of transportation experts to assist states with their evacuation procedures and produce bus and rail car safety inspections as needed.
  • Air traffic control is working to support air evacuations, with standby mobile air traffic control equipment on standby in Houston to serve as back ups in case storm damages equipment.

U.S. Department of Treasury (Treasury)

  • Treasury is working to expedite check and direct deposit payments in the affected areas for certain federal benefits that are scheduled for regular delivery in the first week of the month.
  • Treasury, through the Federal Reserve, has requested that financial institutions in the Gulf Coast states honor the paper checks and consider making Direct Deposit payments available.

U.S. Postal Service (USPS)

  • USPS is working closely with various federal agencies to support state and local authorities with their evacuation efforts.
  • USPS delivered Railroad Retirement, Office of Personnel Management, Veteran's Administration, Social Security Administration checks Friday & Saturday for the Gulf Coast areas from Tallahassee Florida to McAllen Texas.
  • On Friday August 29, and Saturday August 30, monthly benefit checks for customers in potential Hurricane impacted areas were processed and delivered. Nearly 400,000 people in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida have received their Social Security checks rather than on September 3rd, the regularly scheduled payment day.
  • USPS has procedures in place to help customers reestablish connection with their lives through the mail. Customers are encouraged to file change of address cards as soon as they have relocated. Filing can be done in three ways: on-line, at www.usps.com; in person at any post office, station or branch; or by phone at 1-800 ASK USPS (1-800-275-8777).
  • USPS is working closely with the Social Security Administration and other agencies to continue disbursing checks that have not been received. Customers are encouraged to go to the Social Security website, www.ssa.gov and click on the Hurricane Gustav link for more information.

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)

  • DOE has activated its Strategic Petroleum Reserve Emergency Operations Center for 24-hour operations in Monroe, Louisiana. It will coordinate any distribution from the Reserve.
  • DOE has 15 responders deployed to the FEMA National and Regions Response Coordination Centers. Staff are also deployed to Pennsylvania in preparation for Tropical Storm Hanna.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • NOAA's National Hurricane Center is continuing to monitor the track and intensity of Hurricane Gustav. The center will issue watches and warnings to affected areas as needed.
  • NOAA aircraft are flying missions into Hurricane Gustav providing data on the storm for research and operational forecasts. NOAA's geostationary and polar orbiting satellites are also providing valuable data to hurricane forecasters.
  • NOAA post-landfall functions such as navigation response teams, hazardous materials incident scientific support are being staged and prepared for deployment.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

  • USDA responded to a state request and funded the purchase of infant formula and baby food that will be delivered on Aug. 31 to the two large shelters set up in Alexandria and Shreveport.
  • The State of Louisiana requested a waiver for early issuance of food stamp benefits which USDA approved on Aug. 30.

U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)

  • More than 600 SBA disaster personnel are standing by to deploy into the disaster impact area. An additional 500 disaster reservists are prepared to staff the agency's Disaster Loan Processing and Disbursement Center in Ft. Worth, Texas, and the Disaster Customer Service Center in Buffalo, NY
  • The SBA coordinates with federal and state emergency management agencies in the initial post-disaster damage assessment, and works with federal and state partners to provide information about disaster recovery assistance in the form of low-interest loans for homeowners, renters, non-profit organizations and businesses of all sizes. The majority of disaster loans approved by the SBA--about 80%--go to homeowners and renters.

Department of Justice (DOJ)

  • DOJ and federal law enforcement agencies are carefully monitoring the path of Hurricane Gustav and making appropriate preparations in order to respond to the storms landfall.
  • Federal Law Enforcement Agencies are setting up command posts and positioning appropriate response teams. Currently, 2,700 interagency personnel from federal law enforcement agencies have been placed on standby. These resources consist of uniformed officers with marked vehicles, criminal investigators, and tactical teams from Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Marshal Service, and Customs and Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, FPC, Drug Enforcement Agency, Office of Personnel Management's Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Forest Service, Department of Homeland Security's Office of the Inspector General, and U.S. Mint Police.

U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI)

  • DOI's U.S. Geological Survey is deploying temporary storm surge sensors in New Orleans, La.
  • DOI has deployed 30 Search & Rescue boat units from the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
  • DOI's Minerals Management Service has activated its "Continuity of Operations Plan" team to monitor activities of Gulf of Mexico offshore oil and gas operators

American Red Cross (ARC)

  • This is the largest Red Cross relief effort since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The Red Cross has stood up relief operations in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. ARC's first priority during this disaster is to provide people with food, shelter and emotional support. As people leave their homes, ARC staff are on the receiving end to provide shelter and to make them as comfortable as possible in our shelters.
  • ARC is prepared to shelter more than 150,000 people in the four affected states, as well as those states that have agreed to host evacuees. Together, with its partners, ARC has the capacity to provide nearly 650,000 meals per day post-landfall.
  • ARC is reaching out to underserved communities with partner groups, including: the NAACP, the National Immigration Law Center, the Southern Baptist Convention and Catholic Charities.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

  • In response to a possible activation for oil and hazardous materials response, EPA's Regional Emergency Operations Center (EOC) has been brought to a heightened state of alert. EPA has personnel at the FEMA Regional Response and Coordination Center in Atlanta and is providing staff to the Mississippi EOC and the Alabama EOC.
  • EPA regional water program offices are coordinating with states in preparation for potential support should the storm impact the water sector and overwhelm local and state capabilities.

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)

  • NRC dispatched additional staff to nuclear power plants in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. One plant, Waterford about 20 miles west of New Orleans, planned to shut down late Sunday as the storm approached.
  • NRC requires plants to shut down if winds hit hurricane strength. They may not restart without permission from the NRC and assurance from FEMA that evacuation routes are open.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

  • HHS agencies continue to work closely with federal, states and local agencies to coordinate the public health and medical response.
  • HHS has activated the National Disaster Medical System, a federally coordinated operation that can assist state and local officials in dealing with major disasters. HHS also is working with FEMA and the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to provide air evacuation of 500 medical patients in Texas and an estimated 500 by air from Louisiana.
  • HHS has placed Federal Medical Stations, each with a 250-bed capacity, in Texas and Louisiana to provide low-critical care to residents during the emergency. HHS has caches of medical supplies in place in the Gulf region, with additional caches ready to deploy.
  • Teams from HHS human services agencies will work with special needs populations. For instance, the Administration on Aging has been facilitating discussions with directors of state agencies that aid the aging, to help coordinate preparation to ensure the needs of the elderly are met. Liaisons from the Indian Health Service are working with state officials and tribes to ensure state requests for assistance are met.

FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.  For more information on FEMA activities visit www.FEMA.gov and for more information on personal preparedness see www.Ready.gov.