The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), through our regional offices in Atlanta, Philadelphia, New York City and Boston, continues to closely monitor Hurricane Sandy located in the eastern Caribbean Sea about 85 miles south-southeast of the central Bahamas with maximum sustained winds of 105 miles per hour, and remains in close coordination with state emergency management partners in Florida and the potentially affected southeast, Mid-Atlantic and New England states.
With hurricane season lasting through November 30, FEMA stands prepared and ready to support state, local, tribal and territorial partners in responding to storms. The agency has a federal coordinating officer and staff that are currently in Florida working previously declared disasters. They continue to work closely with the state on recovery operations.
Regional Administrators and other senior officials in FEMA’s regional offices along the East Coast have been in contact with their state counterparts in order to ensure coordination for any emergency response. FEMA Incident Management Assistance Teams are on alert for potential deployment to states in order to help with coordination, should emergency response assistance be needed or requested. 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.
“As Hurricane Sandy proceeds closer toward southeast Florida, residents should listen to local officials for updates and follow their instructions,” urged FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. “As the storm moves northward, it serves as a reminder that we all need to be prepared for severe weather. Now is the time to update your family communication plans, check your supplies, and stay informed. A hurricane isn’t a point on a map – it’s a big storm and its impact will be felt far from the center. FEMA is in contact with states and tribal governments and stands ready to support their preparedness efforts.”
According to NOAA’s National Weather Service, Sandy is now a Category 2 hurricane expected to produce storm conditions along the east coast of Florida tonight and Friday. Also, rainfall totals of 1 to 3 inches are possible across the Florida Keys into southeast and east-central Florida. Tropical Storm watches and warnings issued by the National Weather Service remain in effect in southeast Florida. Tropical Storm warnings are in effect for Florida east coast from Ocean Reef to Flagler Beach and Lake Okeechobee. A Tropical Storm watch is in effect for the Florida east coast from north of Flagler Beach to Fernandina Beach; for the Florida Upper Keys from Ocean Reef southward to Craig Key; and Florida Bay.
FEMA urges residents in potentially impacted areas, including the Florida Keys, southern Florida peninsula to listen to NOAA Weather Radio and local news, monitor for severe weather updates and warnings, and follow instructions of local officials. State and local officials make determinations and announcement about evacuations, and if local officials give the order to evacuate, leave immediately. While the exact track of the storm is uncertain, according to the National Weather Service, storm conditions associated with Hurricane Sandy may impact additional states throughout the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast early next week.
While tropical storms are unpredictable, those in the possible path of the storm should be preparing. If you haven’t done so already, take the time now to put together a family emergency plan and emergency kit. Some of the items in a basic emergency kit include: one gallon of water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation; at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food; battery-powered radio and a NOAA Weather Radio; flashlight and extra batteries; and First Aid kit. Having a kit can help you weather the storm.
Everyone should familiarize themselves with the terms that are used to identify a severe weather hazard. A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected within 36 hours. A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within 48 hours.
We urge coastal and inland residents to be familiar with flood and flash flood terminology and safety tips:
-Driving through a flooded area can be extremely hazardous. Almost half of all flash flood deaths happen in vehicles. When in your car, look out for flooding in low lying areas, at bridges, and at highway dips. As little as six inches of water may cause you to lose control of your vehicle. Remember – turn around, don’t drown.
-Flood Watch: Flooding is possible. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
-Flood Warning: Flooding is occurring or will occur soon; if local officials give notice to evacuate, do so immediately.
-Flash Flood Watch: Rapid rises on streams and rivers are possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground; listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
-Flash Flood Warning: Rapid rises on streams and rivers are occurring; seek higher ground on foot immediately.
More information about what to do before, during and after a disaster can also be found visiting ready.gov and listo.gov. FEMA Applications for mobile devices are also available visiting http://www.fema.gov/smartphone-app. Sharing information using social media tools is also a good way for residents to stay informed. Follow FEMA online at http://blog.fema.gov, www.twitter.com/fema, www.facebook.com/fema, and www.youtube.com/fema.
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.